My daughter has finally arrived in England, and we’re back in Lyme Regis. We both love this seaside town with its link to England’s Jurassic past. It’s all about the sea: kids make giant sand castles, young people surf even in grim weather (an interesting mix of paddle boarding and wave surfing), families stroll the Parade, fishing traps and kayaks stand in large stacks at the end of the day, boats rest in the harbor at low tide. You can rent beach huts by the week, versus owning them (£15,000) in Brighton.
And it’s so English (apologies to my Brit friends). The church where Mary Anning is buried is open (obviously it’s a safe place), houses are colorful, the tiny pharmacy carries 11 types of cod liver oil (I found only one back home), the Co-op sells not only garden peas and mushy peas, but marrow processed (?) peas. Our landlady provided digestives.
The baker of “Voted World’s Best Cornish Pasty” fame rings a bell every day between 4 and 5 announcing, “Pasties; half off,” and locals come running to get them.
People are so nice. When we found ourselves without wallets to buy fish and chips at a stand along the Parade, we asked how much for just a piece of cod. “Only £4.” We were still 60 p short. The lady said she’d cover the difference out of her own pocket. We protested – how about you sell us one of the half pieces? She gave us both halves, some of the best cod I’ve had on this trip, and threw in two shrimp.
The streets here are every bit as narrow as Canterbury, but with traffic! Buses regularly come within a few inches of my hinder; one misstep and I’m toast. But seriously, everything about this town is endearing.
The first day we visited Paddy Howe’s Fossil Workshop just downstairs from Alice’s Bear Shop and Hospital for Poorly Bears and Dolls. We renewed our acquaintance from our trip in March. Paddy is the geologist who takes us novices on the Fossil Walks. I noticed he had many Devil’s Toenails for sale. This is the object of my desires this trip. (I gave up my obsession with dinosaur poop from the last visit.) I resolved to buy from him if I could not find one, even though this is against my beachcombing principles (find treasure, don’t buy).
That evening as the sun set, my daughter and I walked out to the beach and then onto the Cobb. I did my best Meryl Streep French Lieutenant’s Woman pose, but clearly I need her figure, the cape and wretched weather.
We planned to take the Lyme Regis Museum’s Fossil Walk, the next day. But somehow I wrenched my back and spent the day in bed. My daughter wisely rescheduled it for two days hence. (Hence? Maybe I’ve spent too much time in England.)
But the next day, my desire to get out to the East Beach overcame my back twinges, so off we went, well lubricated with Aleve. I remembered from last time, that I was so distracted by the abundance of sea glass and pottery shards that I could not concentrate on dinosaur fossils. So today I would focus on these pretties, allowing me to be single-minded for the Fossil Walk.
My daughter finds my pace aggravatingly slow. She has eagle eyes, a definite advantage over my old floater-impaired, and astigmatic eyes. We felt it best to part and she dashed off. Luckily I had a sturdy bag, because I could barely take two steps without seeing something worth picking up.
Only 30 minutes later she was back, grinning. “I found something that you’re not going to like.” Really? “Yes. I know you too well. Do you want to see it now or later?”
“Okay, now,” I sighed. She pulled a quarter-size chunk of tumbled red sea glass out of her bag. She was right. I was envious. I’ve never found a piece of red glass, much less one that size.
The wind was picking up and the sky turned gray, so she headed back to the flat, while I continued for another two hours.
I didn’t find any rare red glass, but did harvest the finest tumbled glass I’ve ever found. The clear, now white glass was the best – thick (which can mean old), well-worn and pitted. The receding tide also exposed a fair amount of worn thicker green and seafoam colored glass. As in March, the town’s old dump spill also provided fused glass globs (upper right).
None of the cobalt blue was thick, and very little of it was well-worn. But I like it, so I picked up as much as I saw. Some of the glass I found had bottle lip lines, markings, or contained wire mesh, a safety feature invented in 1892.
I also collected lots of pottery shards, of every imaginable type and color. Some had markings, many had patterns. As I told someone, this collection will provide hours of amusement, much like my grandmother’s button collection; I never tired of looking at them either.
Well, I’m satisfied that I collected enough glass and pottery that I can now concentrate on fossils and be fully present for the Fossil Walk. In fact, I’m satiated and I already have a box of glass and shards that I’ll return to the beach tomorrow. Wish me luck on finding a Devil’s Toenail.
For other Lyme Regis essays, see:
For other essays from this trip to England see:
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