Thursday, 6 January 2011

A Family Tradtion #1

Collecting shells on the beach is a tradition children remember forever.

25 years ago Topsy, my cousin’s grandmother, would walk along the beach in front of their family beach house at South Golden Beach with my cousins and they would collect shells. Topsy has since passed away however, when the family sold the beach house, my cousin Ben kept some of the shells they had collected over the years. They now sit in a bowl on his coffee table in his beach house which he recently built 2 streets away from his grandparents old beach house.  I am sure everytime he and his brothers look at those shells, they are reminded of those special times with their grandmother on South Golden Beach.  Ben will no doubt continue this shell collecting tradition with his own children one day. 

I have photographed the shells as above.


I Dream Of said...

Such a beautiful memory, and that it is tangible in the bowl of shells. Years and years ago my brother, cousins and I would collect shells when we visited the cabin my dad built on an island in the Puget Sound in Washington State. The cabin is still there, and so are the shells...and the memories. Thanks for starting this series, it's lovely to think about traditions and remember.

Anna Spiro said...

Oh, I am so thrilled this tradition struck a chord with you I Dream Of...I loved hearing your shell collecting story as well! So wonderful.


Unknown said...

the first picture there has such beautiful patterns in it!

collecting shells is such a lovely thing. thats a lovely bowl of them too! i always try and find the largest fan shells, although they are hard to find on SA beaches. my mum told me how she collected those when she was little and of course i wanted to be just like her. still do i suppose!


Emma said...

As a child holidaying at the family beach house, I collected many sea shells with my grandmother and mother. When I got married on the same beach I used many of the sea shells we had collected as table decorations, tying them with string around the napkins. I actually blogged about it as well!!

pve design said...

You certainly know how to breathe new fresh life into traditions, for some, just the word "traditions" can be somewhat stodgy and stuffy - but you make simple traditions look so elegant. Collecting shells....I just wish there were more, the beaches seem to be rapidly losing many.
I love this series.

Anna Spiro said...

Thanks Patricia. Sometimes I think it's the simplest things which can be the most beautiful...don't you think! And collecting shells IS such a simple thing but so rewarding for a child fossicking on the beach!!


Anna Spiro said...

Thanks for the link Emma. That's so wonderful you used the shells at your wedding..amazing!


La Petite Gallery said...

I used to collect shells in Miami Beach when there were shells. They have no shells or fish now.
Happy New Year.

Natasha @ Northern Light Design said...

.... how nice, Anna, I am sure your kids (and their cousins) will have fond memories as well!

Northern Light

MANDY said...

It really is one of the best traditions ... so special !!!

paula said...

I used to do this with my grandmother and now I do it with my children :)

Vanessa said...

What a fantastic tradition! I collect sea shells wherever I go. There are jars and jars of them in my home and I know where most of them came from.
- xo, Vanessa Elizabeth

ps - I love the pattern on the teapot!

The Buzz Blog @ Diane James Home said...

I love reading about the shells and your pictures are beautiful! My three boys love combing the beach near my mother's home in the Easthampton and collecting shells, sea glass, and drift wood. The larger pieces of clam shells are made into choker necklaces with smaller shells glued on and a braided rope to tie around grandma's neck. The smaller bits are put into an old pickling jar and the each layer reminds us our happy vacation memories. Thank you for reminding us of the non-traditional traditions in our lives!

plain jane styling said...


we also have a great big bowl of shells,. starfish...seaglass,.coral and pebbles on our coffee table. my kids love to sit down and line them all up,..sort them into different shapes,....and enjoy their shapes and textures. Lottie, my 6yr old, can remember where every single one was found,.and recounts stories of all of them! From the ones washed up in Port Douglas, the seaglass recently picked up on a beach on the south coast of NSW. pjx

Melissa @ The Inspired Room said...

We have a similar tradition and I LOVE looking at our shells!

Happy New Year Anna!!


Global Atelier said...

What a beautiful family tradition - and its amazing how one can actually remember an occasion by looking at a particular shell. Loved your post today!

Luciane at said...


We live by the beach and we also collect shells... and the sand that come with them! LOL

I'm loving this, Anna... how fun!


Luciane at

Fiona said...

That is really sweet. I still have some shells I collected with my grandmother in South Africa when I was 13. She died about 10 years ago.

K. said...

My whole family is crazy about shells! We have vacationed in South Carolina for 25 years and never fail to tote home bags and bags of shells, sharks teeth, sea name it, we've found it. I am always looking for new ways to decorate with them, and this arrangement is such beautiful inspiration :)

Katie @ Goodsy

Brooke said...

This is one of my family traditions too - living on the Sunshine Coast growing up, there were always plenty to collect. Not sure its the same these days, I hardly ever find any shells back home now.

Thankfully living in Asia, with so many fabulous beaches surrounding us, we still get out fair share of frollicking in the sand and shell collecting. I have a bowl of shells at home which houses my collection from childhood!

Letitia Linke - The White Shed said...

Oh that is so lovely! My inlaws live on the beach......literally, you step out the door and on to the sand. My boys love collecting shells and they pop them in Nanna's hurricanes for all to see. Letitia x

El said...

I do the exact same thing... it drives my boyfriend crazy! My bathroom is filled with shell collection from different countries - I love that they remind me of great times :)

Carissa @ the Fabulous Design File said...

What a beautiful keepsake. Gorgeous photograph too.

Completely Coastal said...


You're the top feature on this weekend's "Coastal News".


I love and so value family traditions. What a great way to influence our kids and create memories.


Unknown said...

That is very special; I love collection shells or rocks from places we visit! I noticed he has Leroy Grannis' book on your table - I have the same book and one day my neighbor (who just passed away at 98) came by and saw the book and recognized Leroy's name and told me he went to school with him when he was a kid. He used to surf with him in Long Beach, CA. before the breakwater was put in and we actually had waves! He loved looking at the book and as he got older he would see it 'for the first time' each time he came over. I went to see him a week before he died and took the book with me to give him one last memory of it.

Anonymous said...

This is a great post Anna. I have the same cushion as the one on your cousin's sofa (the blue and white geometric in Thibault fabric) which I ordered from your store.

It is so nice to hear you mention South Golden Beach. I am currently staying at my family's house in South Golden Beach. It is such a beautiful part of the world and I'm glad you and your family having discovered it.



annie@mostlovelythings said...

Love the idea of collecting things...we have collected sand from every beach we have ever visited. I have them in little clear boxes. It always reminds us of our travels and the wonderful time we had. The shells look beautiful on that blue table. I can't wait to be inspired by your future posts on family traditions.

xxx said...

I completely understand the appeal of collecting shells...or collecting anything for that matter from nature, I too have been a collector.
Unfortunately, especially on popular beaches, it contributes to the destruction of ecosytems :(

We do need to change our ways if we genuinely want to live in a healthy world.