On Mother’s day this year, we went for our usual long beach combing trek along the Thames Estuary near Cliffe, complete with a large ruck sack for any interesting finds. Well, we were indeed spoilt in so far as finds are concerned. So much so, that today’s blog is dedicated to them. It seems appropriate, given that it is close to Easter, to start with the discovery of a rather curious, large pottery egg which was nestled in amongst the rocks and seaweed. It is about the size of a very large goose egg, and when I first noticed it, I thought it was a coconut. Actually I'm surprised I noticed it at all, as it blended in very well with the surrounding rocks.
On picking it up, I shook it and it rattled. Of course, I almost dropped it to see if it would break so we could see what was in it, but I’ve so far managed to resist the temptation. It is clearly handmade and glazed, but it has no markings on it. Thanks to twitter, I was directed to the diary of a fisherman - an online blog called "Tales by the Riverbank". It's a great blog - really interesting to read. I'd recommend it. http://talesbytheriverbank.wordpress.com/. I have posted the relevant "egg" link below but the author was also capivated by the discovery of more and more of these eggs of various sizes along the River bank, over a period of time. He investigated, and it appears that a few years ago (Im not certain exactly when) an anonymous Artist from Sussex, sent out 5000 eggs into the Thames Estuary, of varying sizes and colours. Some are marked with a number and others are not. http://talesbytheriverbank.wordpress.com/?s=Eggs&submit=Search There is also a short and mysterious film about the project here http://riveregg.wordpress.com/film/ . I realised after watching it, that a small, pink ceramic egg that I found closer to Greenwich some time ago, was certainly also one of these eggs.
The next discovery was not as pleasant, but interesting nonetheless. A few weeks ago, when we were doing the same walk we noticed a trio of short eared owls hunting the waders on the water. It as amazing to watch as they swooped in to target their prey. Happily, the waders didn't succomb and managed to create confusion by flying off in several different directions. It would appear that this poor racing pigeon wasn't quite so lucky. He had clearly been killed by a bird of prey (maybe those same short eared owls), and there wasn't much of him left :(. We rang the owner to share the sad news and tell him where we found his pigeon. (we did spare the gory details though...). He was a racer from Essex and had nearly reached home, but not quite. Sorry little pigeon!!
Discovery number 3 was another dolphin skull! I now have 2 in my collection. I never actually set out to collect skulls - it just kind of happened..... but oh well, there is something very interesting about them. I now have a good collection of sun bleached seabird skulls, and they are beautifully intricate. Does that make me morbid? I'm not sure!! Generally, if you do discover a dead cetacean by the way, you are obliged to report it to the local coastguard, and then to the Natural History museum for their records. I didn't report this find given that it was only part of a cetacean - but perhaps I should do so anyway.....
Ok so this Victorian pottery lid was a beautiful find. There are some very old and crumbling piers along the Thames estuary near Cliffe and as a rule you do seem to often find broken bits of pottery and pipe in their vicinity. This beautiful pot lid was upside down in the mud, and it was a lovely surprise to turn it over and see this. Sooo much nicer than the plastic pots you get in the chemists nowadays!
we had such an eventful walk that day, and it was dark by the time we arrived back at the car. The cranes across the river from the New Thames Port glowed in the sunset, reminding me, as usual, of very large birds that might just start wading across the river....As well as the finds described above, we found pottery galore, 5 messages in bottles, myriad of old and forgotten plastic toys, and some great driftwood. Here's to the next walk, or should I call it a treasure hunt?