Found Objects – Horseshoe

A few months ago, I mentioned in a post that we were digging out an old raised vegetable bed at the end of our garden, in preparation for a new garden room/shed and decked area. In the course of the excavation our daughter was pottering around, poking through the piles of earth and rubble for items of interest – coloured stones, bits of old pottery, a small plastic teacup all taking her interest. Then, more recently, she found this:

IMG_2311 It’s a horseshoe, obviously. At least, I think it is. Rusty, with most of the nails still in place, and surprisingly light. But it seems a bit smaller than the average horseshoe:

IMG_2315 As you can see, it would easily sit on the palm of my hand, and I’m not a woman with freakishly large hands or anything. So now it’s got me thinking. Our house was built in the 1930s, but before that this area was all forest, running along the valley to what was then a small village about two miles away.

I wonder whether it came from a small pony, perhaps belonging to a child. Or a dainty palfrey, mount of a lady. Or something else altogether. Potential stories abound. Whoever the mysterious rider was, it must have been annoying to have their horse lose a shoe in the middle of the woods.

And now, however many years later, it’s turned up again. So, horse-y bloggers out there, what do you think? Is this a rather small horseshoe? Or is it normal size? While I love horses, I’ve never spent any great amount of time with them, so would love to know more.


Beach Treasure


I found this on the beach last year. To me it looks like a porcelain dog’s head, weathered by its time in the sea but still holding a vestige of what it once was. And it is porcelain, not just some strangely weathered stone – traces of shining crackled glaze run under its ‘chin’ and the shape seems too regular to have been made by anything other than human hands.


The beach where I found it is in South Wales at the mouth of a river. Tidal surges combined with a point make it perfect for surfing waves, one of the reasons we were there. A small town sits on the hillside above looking out across the silver sea, but there’s nothing at the river mouth now except green flatlands intersected with twining ribbons of water, then pebbly shingle as you get closer to where it meets the sea. But there was something once. Red bricks, weathered by the waves into undulating shapes, still overlaid in places by concrete aggregate, shattered and cracked by the power of the water, hint at a large structure here once, many years ago. And that’s where the story comes in.

This little piece of porcelain speaks to me of long distance voyages, creaking timber ships laden with treasure from lands steamy with tropical heat. Crowded ports ringing with voices, languages and customs in layers too heavy and convoluted to tell apart, a glorious mix of cultures and ideas. I imagine a journey south, stopping at spice-scented ports along the way, trading until the great horn of Africa is rounded and the long haul north begins. The ship with its cargo fetching up here only for a dish or vase to drop as it’s carried to shore, shattered porcelain pieces sinking below the waves, a journey ended just moments too soon. Or perhaps someone came home from the East (for this is Chinese porcelain, I can just feel it – a little snarling dog with cloud-like curling painted ears), leaving silks and gentle customs behind to return to the green mountains and cold waters of the north, bringing treasured possessions all this way only to drop something, a crate breaking or trunk popping open at the last moment.

So even though it’s just a little piece of broken china I found on a shore, it tells me stories that take me far out into the world. I love stuff like this, the energy they contain. There is a psychic talent, if you believe in such things, called psychometry, whereby someone can tell the history of an item simply by holding it, drawing impressions from the energy it holds. Perhaps story telling is another facet of this, drawing on experiences out in the world and tying them into a narrative. I don’t know where this came from, but I can dream and think and weave what I know with what I don’t, and there lies the story. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – stories are everywhere, if you care to look for them.

PS And for those of you who think this is a bit of old meerschaum pipe, or a funny looking stone, or something completely different, let me know! This is the story it told me – perhaps it will tell you something else xx

A Mystery From The Sea


The view from our guesthouse front door.

Last year, at the end of summer we went to Sligo, up in the northwest of Ireland. It was wonderful. We visited a fairy mountain and made a wish, walked through a landscape of stone monuments older than Stonehenge and stayed on the beach at a little hotel behind an ancient pub that served the most fantastic meals.


Ancient cairns.

One day we decided, perhaps in a moment of madness, to walk around the rocks that edged the coastline, leading away from the pebbly beach. It wasn’t too bad, to be honest – even the small girl could manage it, and we were amazed by the fossils visible in the ancient rock layers, as well as the deep clear ocean pools below our feet.


Around the ragged rocks…

We made it, eventually, around to what had once been a harbour and on the rocks of the small ‘beach’ we found this:


It was about 40cm wide…

Isn’t it amazing? If I could, I would have brought it home with me. But it was incredibly heavy, despite the rust. So I took a photo instead. I’ve been meaning to have it made into a canvas – I just love the colours and the way whatever-it-is sits on the stones.

The stones were in it just as you see them – whether deposited by some other hand or the ocean waves I wasn’t sure. The beach was littered with other bits of rusting iron, remnants of a mysterious past. A curving concrete quay jutted out along one side of the little cove but it was tiny – only small boats would have come in here. Perhaps one night there was a wild storm and one of them washed up to break against the rocks, only the heaviest metal bits and pieces remaining to tell the tale.


Ireland – where even the rocks have personality 🙂

So an object found, but left where it lay. Sometimes it’s better that way.