I took The Children away for a week over the Easter holidays. Naturally, they wanted to go somewhere that had a beach, and naturally, they badgered to be taken to the beach nearly every day we were there. What did we find there, when we went? Jellyfish. Big ones.
I poked the bell of one with the toe of my boot, almost expecting it to burst, or my foot to sink into it. It felt surprisingly tough, though, tough and rubbery, not fragile in any sort of way. They were all sizes, from tiny things, to beasts a couple of feet across. I took a photo with The Children in it for scale.
THe big one seemed to have tiny tiny shrimp living in a little hole. I’m not sure if they’d been trapped and eaten by it, if they were in some sort of symbiosis with it, or if they just happened across it as the tide went out and were using it as a kind of emergency rock pool.
One of the regular readers, who I won’t embarrass, has already written to say they’re terrifying. I find them eerie, but also comforting, in that they have been bobbing around the sea happily for millennia, eating away at stuff and just generally doing their own thing. I think these are the barrel jellyfish, Rizostoma pulmo, which can potentially grow to much, much larger than this, and are also known as the “dustbin lid jellyfish” as a result. Maybe one day I’ll come across a dustbin-sized or child-sized one washed up on the shore.
They do say that if you want to go looking for fossils on a beach, you should go in winter when storms disturb things or bring clifftops tumbling down. So just after Christmas, we went to Dunraven Bay, just near the mouth of the Afon Ogwr, because frankly if you want to be able to pick fossils up randomly off the sand on a beach, the coast of South Wales between Porthcawl and Cardiff is one of the best places in the world. Dunraven doesn’t just have fossils, though, it has a haunted garden. It did have a castle, but the castle was demolished in the 1960s, leaving behind the walled garden and the ghost that lives there.
Sadly, I didn’t get a photo of the ghost.
By the time you read this, we will be in internet-connection limbo. The broadband will be down for a few days. No up-to-the-minute topical blogposts. No uploading photos, although, as I’m on a several-months backlog as per usual, nobody is likely to notice.
So, here’s something that’s easy to write in advance. Photo Post Of The Week. Beside the sea side, beside the sea.
Last month we popped back up north, for a family wedding; and fitted in a side trip to Whitby.
A month or so ago, we took a trip to Clevedon, Somerset. I wrote about it at the time, although, I realise now, didn’t explicitly say which town we’d been to. Here, though, are some of the photographs.
And, as that’s not very many, here’s some of Bristol just after Christmas, too:
Another lazy weekend this weekend. Wanting to get out of the house, though, we took a trip to Portishead.
It’s a strange town. A strangely-shaped town. Like Clevedon, it’s a seaside town that doesn’t look towards the sea. The harbour is lined tightly with recently-built classically-themed terraces, designed to look like Totterdown or Clifton, but packed in much more densely. Further south is a muddy bay, a headland looking across to Newport; and the remains of an old fortress, little more than lines of concrete in the clifftop grass. There is also, signs said, some Iron Age defensive works; but they are well-hidden by trees and my rusty eye couldn’t make them out.
Clevedon had a pier and an interesting bookshop; Portishead didn’t seem to have any similar attractions. We tried to find the lighthouse marked on our map, before going home, blown back by the wind off the sea.
I grew up not far from the sea. I didn’t go down to the beach or the seafront very often, but I was close enough that you could see out to sea from the top deck of my school bus. I’ve always felt good by the sea.*
On the other hand, I grew up in an area where the sea is the colour of weak milky tea. So it’s always nice to go somewhere and find that the sea can, actually, sometimes be storybook blue.**
In other sea-related (or, at least, tidal) news: the mystery words on the shore of the Avon, which we spotted last weekend and posted about, have been identified: an artwork to highlight litter in the sea, by an artist called Pete Dolby. Thanks to Liz for writing and letting me know.
* You could argue some sort of genetic memory, because my mum’s family’s descended from a bunch of 19th-century Cornish fishermen (and smugglers, no doubt), from Looe and Polperro. On the other hand, my dad’s family’s from Derby, which is as unmaritime as you can get.
** Pure water is, as a matter of fact, very very slightly a pale blue colour. You can see it, just about, if you run a bathful of water in a white bath. That’s not the main reason the sea can look blue, though. And different cultures have seen it different ways; the Homeric adjective for it is “wine-dark”, and you know how dark Greek wine can be. I’ve heard that the ancient Greeks didn’t quite distinguish between blue and green in the same way as we do; but I don’t know enough Greek to tell you how true that is.
Bude, in North Cornwall, back in May. A study in clouds and sea-spray.
This June was originally going to be Photo Month on this site, given the oodles of photos I took on holiday. Unfortunately, I took so many photos on holiday,* I still haven’t managed to sort through them all yet.
Here’s a few, to be going on with. The Tintagel area. I have more to write about Tintagel.
* 803 in total