When Mrs B and I are down at Crackington beach for some fresh air we will often be seen walking along the stony parts of it while apparently looking down at our feet. It has become a habit, after joining in regularly with the beach cleaning crew, to spy plastic drinks bottle tops, fragments of plastic packaging and infinitely knotted lengths of brightly coloured fishing line entangled in the seaweed, so we normally take a bin bag with us to be ready to pick up any litter. But this cleaning is incidental to our main purpose. In reality we are set against each other in serious competition and in a hunt for treasure.
Our quarry is beach glass, fragments of glass worn down – over who knows how many years – by the same constant friction that creates the familiar rounded and smooth pebbles. Typically these little ‘jewels’ will be fragments that can be only a few millimetres across, the larger pieces turn up much less often. There seems to be an infinite variety of colour, some are like little beads, some are frosted. Surface shapes and light translucency vary widely but there is rarely a sharp edge to be found.
I think I might be overstating the competition angle of the hunt slightly, there is an element of patience to successful small fragment hunting among the myriad of stones in many colours and shades which Mrs B, for all her many fine qualities, simply does not have. Standing still and just looking for any more than about three seconds is just not in her psyche. We have – OK, I have – created some extra categories for the competitions so as to increase the chances of a Mrs B ‘win’. We always have had of course the ‘Most Pieces Found‘ as a start, but we have recently added ‘Best Colour‘, ‘Best Clarity‘,’Smallest Piece‘ and ‘Most Interesting Overall Shape‘.
This week I had to drop Mrs B in to work, so afterwards I took a walk on the beach by myself. The tide was on the way out and revealed that Crackington had been in receipt of a large amount of sand recently. This beach seems to have more dramatic changes of profile to it than most. Some beaches you can rely on as being large stretches of pebbles or sand, Crackington seems to have more of a materials and shape-shifting nature. The tide was on the way out, leaving ample enough pools in the sand and rocks on the way to be good for reflections of the dramatic skies. Trouble was, as the purpose of my journey was to drop Mrs B into work, I wasn’t in possession of my camera, therefore failing on photographer rule 1, take a camera at all times. I did have my phone so… no, it’s not as good at all.
Resigning myself then to a morning of not being able to lose myself in getting creative, I walked back to the stony part of the beach and instead saw my chance to have a really good beach glass hunting session, so I started walking around with my eyes glued to the stones. For about two hours. I also found a piece of driftwood so when I got home I set all my finds out on it as a triumphant display of my day’s endeavours. Mrs B was very impressed when she came home from work. She said ‘Very nice. Is it Bake Off on telly tonight?’
You will notice, there on the end, all on its own, is a very rare bit of ‘red’. I feel sure this would have won me the ‘Best Colour‘ category if it had been a normal competition day, the second piece of green from the left is also a good candidate for ‘Best Clarity‘. That smallest bit of ‘green’ is probably only 3 or 4mm square in area and there is a bit of ‘whitey green’ which looks a bit like a comma, so I suppose, all tied together with the sheer total amount of the stuff, I feel I would have comfortably won all of the categories that I made up again.
So, for all of you technology and Pokemon Go contrarians like me, who refuse to hold your phone out in front of you to see what it can ‘see’ when you are actually there yourself, here is an alternative. Spend an hour or two in the fresh air, collecting things which are actually really unique to you, doesn’t need an internet signal (good job too on Crackington beach) and you can keep in a jar on the window sill to enjoy again as the play of sunlight reveals many new combinations of colour, textures and shapes. Worth catching ’em all.