Mill Creek, Dittisham


I had to deliver a Spider Crab print for a client of the Bowie Gallery in Totnes. Once I had dropped it off I went onto Dittisham. The idea was to have a cup of coffee looking out over the Dart Estuary. We walked down the north side of the village. It was very quiet, almost silent. I think it is warmer here than further inland. Leaves on some of the shrubs had come out, one felt reluctantly, and looked naked against the cold grey March sky.  An alley lead down between gardens to a slipway into Mill Creek, the estuary for the Barbary Water, leading into the Dart Estuary.

The shelter it provides makes it valuable for many species. Short and long snouted seahores have been seen here, mussels, and sponges. My idea was to look for Mytilus galloprovinciallis, the Mediterranean mussel. I love painting it’s blue-violet shells, some of which shade through to a light brown.  The tide was going out, leaving the dark egg wrack slumped on the shore between blackened stones and glassy mud, home to ragworms, food for seabirds. It wasn’t as cold as Mylor because the cove was better protected from the wind, but it was still cold.

I didn’t find any mussels, instead cockles. They live just below the surface of the mud, which just shows you, there is somewhere for everyone. I took some of the empty shells home to sketch. I like their beautiful markings which are so fine that they could have been engraved with a needle. Our collie loved being by the water, and the mud. Oh, yes, and I took a sliver of peeling paint from one of the rotting, clinker built boats for it’s blue.   A good day: on the way back we saw periwinkles in the hedge rows.


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