Yesterday we went fossil hunting. It was fun. It was also a tad breezy. And when I say a tad I mean it was blowing a gale fit to bust.
We were undeterred though. Well, possibly just a tad deterred.
The fossil beach in question sits about fifty miles south of here, along the coast of Northumberland.
Fortunately, Scotland having yet to achieve independence, no passports were required to get there.
As it turned out the boys came better prepared for the drive than I did, bringing with them a set of thirty seven CD’s of the Alex Rider books to listen to along the way. I think we made it to number three by the time we got home.
I on the other hand have apparently got out of the habit of packing for all eventualities which is why, when James suddenly experienced an unexpected bout of car-sickness, all he had to throw up in was a disposable glove he grabbed from, appropriately enough, the glove compartment.
Fortunately and against all odds you’ll be relieved to know the glove proved water-tight and James managed to dispose of it in a bin shortly afterwards.
Oh I had so forgotten how we used to measure car journeys in numbers of sick stops. The best we ever managed was a five sick stop trip to a dinosaur park. The boys bragged about that one for months.
Anyway, apart from all this excitement the main reason for the trip wasn’t fossils, or audio books even. It was to meet up with an old friend.
Julie and I worked together over twenty years ago, in one of the best jobs I ever had. She was (and still is) the information officer at Leeds Disabled Living Centre where I spent an extremely happy couple of years attempting to do my OT thing.
Whenever I got out of my depth (which was often), Julie was there to rescue me. Most notably when I was tasked with organising a one day conference on gardening for the disabled, a subject about which I knew next to nothing. Out of my depth doesn’t begin to describe how I felt at that point.
In my defence I was simultaneously in the throes of helping my parents plan our wedding, so it’s possible I might have been a trifle distracted. Anyway, Julie came to my aid and patiently, and with her brilliantly quirky sense of humour, helped me sort out speakers and publicity and the whole shebang. I absolutely couldn’t have done it without her. Happy days.
It was really great to see her again, meet her lovely daughter and catch up on nearly two decades of news in person rather than via email or either of our blogs.
My cousin Ruth and her daughter Molly also joined us, which was excellent, not least because they know the beach well and were able to show us the best fossil areas and some amazing petrified trees.
Hats off to everybody for putting up with three hours of icy gale force winds with such good humour.
The picnic idea was not quite what we’d hoped, as the weather made it impossible to sit out on the beach or anywhere else for that matter. So instead the young sheltered from the winds inside our various cars eating their sandwiches, biscuits, crisps and the like, while we hardy adults huddled outside between the cars catching up on so many life events whilst trying to maintain sufficient circulation in hands, feet and ears to prevent frostbite.
It was a typical British picnic in fact.
As always the time was too short and eventually we had to concede defeat to the dropping temperature and the howling winds and say our goodbyes.
Next time I think I’ll suggest meeting in a cosy tea room on a sunny summer’s day.
Still, despite all that the weather threw at us and the odd glove of vomit, we all spent a remarkably enjoyable afternoon combing the beach for interesting looking objects, pretending to know something about prehistoric geology and trying not to fall into rock pools.
I took photos of course. While I still had feeling in my hands at least.
When we got home I had another look at the two interesting pebbles I picked up along the beach.
Next time we go fossil hunting maybe I’ll do a bit of paleontological research beforehand and also maybe I’ll just double check the weather forecast.
**Looks like pretty much all the fossils we found yesterday were Crinoids (Sea Lilies, creatures related to Sea Urchins and Starfish). They are, I believe, from the Silurian period and are therefore around 425 million years old. Impressive huh?