Look what the sea washed up…

I’ve lived by the sea for the last couple of decades, although I’ve always been within a couple of miles of the coast.  One of the things that I love about the location is the way in which the seascape is forever changing.  I’ve long believed that the short stretch of shoreline could produce something new to photograph everyday.  (Rest assured I’ve shot enough images there that I’m no longer sufficiently obsessed to start another project365!)

When I say that the shoreline could produce something new everyday this is no exaggeration.  Anyone familiar with changing shorelines will know that the sea is constantly depositing gifts along the high water mark.

Stormy seas such as those we have experienced lately will wrench seaweed from its anchorage and leave the sands strewn with slippery strands of fragrant brown kelp.  Small stones and pebbles are always part of the shoreline debris, but large rocks can also be thrown up by more potent waves.

Then there are the man-made deposits.  Fragments of brick are common, planks of driftwood, fragments of fishing nets and garish marine ropes are all unsurprising finds, along with the inevitable litter; plastics bottles and sweet wrappings are common.

Thankfully the shoreline hazards of my youth are no longer found.  Beaches are no place to find broken glass, and rockpools afloat with used condoms?  No thank you.

The combination of cold, wind and rain meant  that whilst there was plenty of material for the passing beachcomber, there were very few about to spot such exotica as this:

The one person I did meet on the sands was Sheila, but with so little of her exposed to the elements I didn’t feel she quite met the requirements for today’s portrait, which is a shame since she was so co-operative.

Perhaps there were other factors at play in keeping people off the beach.  One of the side effects of organic matter like weed and algae being liquidised into the seawater is that it creates a detergent like effect.  Combine this with winds to whip it into a foam and you get spume.  This is a relatively minor amount – in extreme cases it has reached a metre high on beaches elsewhere on the globe, but it can be hazardous if it contains contaminated storm drain overflows or algal blooms.

To be fair it’s easily avoided, but another trap was in store today.  Normally  the sand above high water is soft and dry, but firmer footing is found on the sea-washed stretches where the sand is more compacted.  I was surprised then that when I reached this section today I began to sink further into the sand, which was more mud-like than expected.  There must have been so much rain of late, that combined with the receding seawater there was too much to easily drain away, leaving the shoreline akin to thick soup.

No wonder the place was deserted, but I still wanted more of a portrait.  Well, every cloud has a silver lining, and for the first time in a while there wasn’t a queue of hungry customers at the window of any of the fish and chip suppliers.  As I arrived at Minchella’s (probably the best) I found three members of staff passing the time with little hope of custom.  One of them made a break for cover, but Claire and Heather remained to be photographed.  I knew I had a semi-prepared meal at home. but the smell of chips took a lot of willpower to resist.  They’re still on my mind now!

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