I paid a quick visit to Porlock Weir on the North Coast of Exmoor National Park. This is a very tiny fishing village tucked beneath the high hills and bluffs of the National Park, accessed by a single and often precipitous road.
As you enter the village there is a short terrace of ancient cottages built directly on to the beach. These cottages are exposed and would endure the full fist of the North Atlantic gales in the darker months.
Centuries of this brutal treatment have given these dwellings a definite hunkered down appearance. They sit squat on the pebbles and have developed rounded and folded roofs with soft sides to repel the storms. Or have they been moulded by the elements like the vast, slate stone beach?
The occupiers have made great efforts where they can and on the front side which faces away from the sea the walls have been painted gaily with white wash. In addition the windows sport geraniums, and occupying the tiny space in front of each door you will find Clematises climbing from large earthenware pots.
On the seaward side however they present a face of no nonsense granite. A fortress against the sour moods of nature. And the only plants to survive on this side are the hardy coastal grasses and various other species which could probably scratch a living for themselves on Mars.
The most interesting thing for me were the gardens, or lack of them. None of the cottages has a marked out area for their garden. The back door just opens out directly onto the beach. How very un British!
So depending on which way you want to see it, they don’t have a garden at all or each has a massive garden going right down the shoreline.
This non specified area is certainly used as a garden though because bright washing was flapping merrily in the breeze outside one property and a father and son were playing football together outside another.
I stood there for a while and did a 15 minute sketch of the scene which turned out fairly well. I think I will go back and turn it into a larger watercolour.
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