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.
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.
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.
We should be banned from second-hand bookshops. They’re far too tempting. Even though we have hundreds of books, many many books we’ve never read, we still can’t resist popping into a second-hand bookshop and buying more. It’s not like going in a normal bookshop, where you have a good chance the same books will be on the shelf the following week. If you’re in a town you don’t know, and you visit a second-hand bookshop, there’s a good chance you might come across a book that you’ll never, ever see again anywhere else.
All this is making us sound very middle-aged. A weekend out for us: tea rooms and second-hand bookshops. It makes us sound like fifty-somethings. Oh well.
We’re still trying to find the Ideal Seaside Town, you see. So we went out on Saturday, to a potential one, and found a quiet (but windy) prom, a quiet (but very windy pier), a nice second-hand bookshop and a shortage of tea rooms. We did find more books for our library, though, squeezing into the bookshop. “Sorry about all the boxes everywhere”, said the proprietor. “You can’t get to all of our shelves at the moment”. Which is no doubt a good thing, because otherwise we’d only have bought more than we did.
On the pier, we got chatting to some fishermen who were leaning back and waiting for a bite. “You look a bit like Cliff Richard,” one of them said. Unfortunately I didn’t have a seagull on my head at the time, so there goes that joke. I can’t see the resemblance myself.
Bude, in North Cornwall, back in May. A study in clouds and sea-spray.
And, I’m back, myself. From an Easter Weekend away. We went out on an excursion through the Wallasey tunnel,* to the seaside. Photos to come later in the week. H thought about walking out to sea,x to wade across to the Hilbre Islands, but the tide wasn’t quite right, and the water started creeping up to the knee.
Apart from that, we relaxed, unwound, wound up again, that sort of thing. And ate lots of chocolate, jelly and cake, of course, because it’s seasonal. Are there any festivals which aren’t used as an excuse to eat something, even if it’s something not very impressive?
* Fellow Sinister veterans will be pleased to know that I did hum Marx And Engels to myself as we drove.
It was Scarborough that did it.
We had a lovely day, walking up and down the prom, eating candy floss in the car,* going up and down the cliff lift, avoiding the waves that were splashing up over the edge of the prom and over the road: the sea looked like an over-full bathtub. But it was the cold, biting wind, that left me feeling half-asleep and jammed up for the past couple of days, left me wishing I could stay tucked up in bed asleep for a week.
* so it didn’t blow away. The candy floss, not the car.