How to make a ship in a bottle

Model of the barque Penang in a dimple whisky bottle

How to make a ship in a bottle, Clive Monk’s way. Making a model ship in a whisky bottle might be just the thing for these chilly wintry spring evenings when there’s now some light but nobody wants to go out.

The dimple bottle takes me back – when I was young I remember I had a yachting great uncle based in Ayr who was a director of Haig.

Sitting by the stove drinking whisky is nice, but surely spring and summer will come soon? Please?

London’s ship in a bottle

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This giant ship in a bottle artwork in Trafalgar Square, London, by Yinka Shonibare commemorates Nelson’s victory at the Battle of Trafalgar.

It also raises the time-honoured ship-in-a-bottle question:  how on earth did they make it?

Having seen it at close quarters and read about it, I still don’t know the answer. What we are told, however, is that the ship’s 37 sails are made of exuberant and richly patterned textiles commonly associated with African dress and is meant to convey the complexity of British expansion in trade and Empire, made possible through the freedom of the seas that followed victory at Trafalgar.

The bottle’s context is intriguing. Trafalgar Square is the usual destination of big demonstrations in London, and as I passed through on Saturday a crowd of Egyptians were celebrating the previous day’s events in Tahrir Square, and their countrymen’s victory over an oppressive regime supported by so many Western governments. I sincerely hope the cause of their understandable happiness lasts, although I fear Egypt is a country where there must be many dangerous people who have reason to fear the justice that democracy could bring.

Atop his column, meanwhile, Nelson serenely looked out over the River Thames and the Empire from atop his wonderfully impressive column. There’s something symbolic about the way he so resolutely turns his back on the political gestures and statements that ordinary mortals make in the square – I don’t know if it was the intention of the original architect and artist, but his stance could have been calculated to represent the establishment’s view of most of what happens behind him.

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A Mouseboat in a bottle

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Julie and I were very pleased and moved this week to receive a genuinely unique gift – this beautifully made Mouseboat in a bottle made and presented by Mouseboat builder and regular Mouseboat Yahoogroup contributor Les Brown.

He’s certainly made the smallest and cutest Mouseboat I’ve seen, and in the best traditions of these things, I’m utterly baffled about how he got the thing inside the bottle.

Many thanks Les – you can be sure we’ll treasure it!

Mouseboats are a series of small and simple homemade boats constructed to free plans available from the Mouseboat Yahoogroup. More than 200 of the boats have been built and registered.