Thursday, 25 October 2012


Last week heralded the arrival of our new local celebrity 'Verity'. She is a 20 metre (66ft) bronze statue of a naked, pregnant woman wielding a sword. The statue was designed by Damien Hirst and has been erected on the harbour at Ilfracombe. With so much press coverage and controversy, including the description by Catherine Bennet from the Observer that 'it has brought public art to a new low', I could not resist a trip to Ilfracombe to see for myself.

I have a real soft spot for Ilfracombe as a place. It does not always get great press locally as there are some less beautiful aspects to it. However, I think it is full of hidden charm, quirkiness, amazing views, some great people and plenty of history, so well worth a visit.

The harbour has what can only be described as spectacular views of the Torr behind it and Wales out across the Bristol channel. As a once glorious Victorian seaside town, that has fallen upon hard times, I think it is really trying to break into a new era. Ilfracombe is trying to find an evolving identity for the future and so the idea of a statue that might speak of this and draw people to this fascinating place, for me can only be a good thing. So here she is.....

This, some may say, is her 'good side'. Her stance is taken from Edgar Degas' late 19th century bronze 'Little Dancer of Fourteen Years'. I love his work and really liked this side of her. Like many of Degas' bronzes, there is something young and full of life about her. However, from the other side.....

There are aspects of 'Verity' that are not altogether pleasant, particularly the peeled skin on her leg and the side view of her stripped away skull revealing her eye ball and socket!!

It has been said that art is not supposed to be comfortable and there is something uncomfortable about her. However, the children found the inner workings of her body and in particular her baby growing inside her completely fascinating! She inspired lots of questions such as 'why are babies are upside down?' and then lots of giggling at her funny knobbly boobs...and this was just from Richard!

Damien Hirst, who has lent 'Verity' to Ilfracombe and lives locally, has described her on his website as a "a modern-day allegory for truth and justice". It really helped me with my discomfort to know the story behind her. Her name 'Verity' is from the Italian word for truth, she holds the traditional symbols denoting justice - a sword and scales but...........

The scales are hidden and off balance behind her back, while the sword is held confidently in her outstretched arm. On his website, Damien Hirst says that "Without the perfect equilibrium enacted by the scales, the sword becomes a dangerous instrument of power, rather than justice." I like this reminder.

Here she is last week under construction. If you would like to read more about 'Verity' and how she was made, take a look at Damien Hirst's website.
If you want to see more of Damien Hirst's art in Ilfracombe he has a restaurant on the harbour 'No 13, the Quay' which is very interesting, has amazing views and lovely food. However, on our visit it was a picnic in the sunshine for us!

After pondering over 'Verity' we could not resist a climb up to 'The North Chapel' to eat our packed lunch and explore.

This little light house /chapel  dating back to the 14th century is perched on the hill. I have seen it  many times but not ventured up there to explore. It turned out to be the perfect place for a picnic with my lovely friend Sarah and her children.

What a view (I am not talking about us of course).

Inside was the cutest, tiny hickledy pickledy house,where the light house keeper lived in 1850 with his 13 children! It is full of amazing photos of Ilfracombe in days gone by.

Millie-grace had lots of fun exploring.

It was also at one point a Chapel and a place of rest for pilgrims landing by boat at Ilfracombe (I can't quite remember where they were going, sorry!)

All in all it was a great day, I enjoyed meeting 'Verity'. I liked her because she made me think, she inspired us to ask questions and to giggle. Perhaps best of all she is bringing visitors to Ilfracombe who hopefully will look beyond the press of both 'Verity' and Ilfracombe itself and discover what both have to offer.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

A Surfing Party!

Zac has always loved being in the sea, but this last year has been huge for him in terms of both surfing and also surf lifesaving. 

No surprise then, that for his 10th birthday party he chose to go surfing with his mates.

This is the second birthday cake i have made in my life, so i had to prove that i did actually do it..

 (well, actually, Steve's mum made the sponge, i just decorated it!) Can you tell that it's the sea and a beach? (Putsborough beach to be precise - check out the walnut rocks!)

 Take note of the frothy white thinking of adding my name to our wedding cake makers list...what do you think?

The waves were flat at Puts so we headed to good old Croyde Bay instead. Zac (and Liza) chose their best surfing mates to come along

and we couldn't have asked for better conditions.

For October, the weather was amazing and the sea still warm.

Lots of people were out and holiday-makers still around, so in many ways it still feels like the remnants of summer. 

Loving the luminous pink wax. Zac, and his long-term friend Kieran, who has recently moved here, often go in together.

Luke was first up on the wave, showing the boys how its done.

He was riding his Dad's old board known as a 'big wave gun'...Luke's dad is a well known electrician around these parts so we will have lots of jokes now we have this ammo (ammo...get it?!)

As i watched from the beach it just looked idyllic out there.

Liza was riding a board we call 'The Pudding'. The girls were straight up...

Liza, 7 and Daisy 8, show the boys how its done..

Zac jumps up

and rides the wave

He was riding his Dad's 'Gulf-Stream fish' short-board, that Steve got from a number of friends for his 40th...the take-over didn't take long! 

Luke was riding Steve's old 'mini-mal' 

The anticipation of the next set.

Rez loving the ride on his Redwood 'grom short-board'.

Henry on a 'pop-out' board 

and then dropping off and getting sea in the eye..not so good! I am relieved to say, despite appearances, Henry was was only Zac with an injury by the end.

Kieran rides in style on his 'fluid-juice' short-board, shaped in Cornwall.

Hughie prefers fishing to surfing, but you would never know!

Riding his 'Redwood Long-board' like a pro.

Almost a barrel there Hughie!

Zac was keen for me to put up more pics of him so here you go...

I think this was just before the accident of his board smacking him above his left eye..poor Zac.

Never one to let a small thing like that get in the way, after a bit of reassurance and mopping up, he went straight back in for more.

Although Steve was in the water with them, we were reassured by the presence of the life-guards.

 I am sure they are great at their job; but Baywatch, they are not.

As the light started to change, we changed location and drove everyone over to Putsborough beach cafe.

There are not many cafe's in the world with a view like this.

Tony cooked up a wonderfully healthy tea made up mostly of nuggets, burgers and chips!

Then out came the cake. No Baker birthday is complete without a firework in there somewhere. Just a shame Steve chose to plonk it straight in the middle of my sea! Mind you with the Atlantic Array wind farm most likely on its way, it was probably a fairly accurate prediction of the future..

After tea they all formed their own games on the beach (i was pleased as they might have run off some of the stodge before the Mum's and Dad's arrived).

As we left the beach, the light changed again 

and by the time we had got on the Pickwell road, this is the scene that greeted us. 

A beautiful end to a beautiful day.