What a busy, busy old day. (I'm writing this sat on a train, to publish when I find a wi-fi signal that lets me get into blogger & publish it). Squeaky, her Gran, and I spent the morning at Sand Bay, near Weston-super-Mare, taking part in the Marine Conservation Society'sBig Beach Clean Up.
We joined about 100 people, including some folk from the local radio station, and the Mayor, in cleaning up litter from the beach, while a group carried out a survey of the amount and types of litter found in a 100metre area as part of a scientific study. I was actually quite pleasantly surprised at how clean the beach was, more seaweed and driftwood than litter. This made the litter collecting quite difficult, there was a clear tide-line of natural debris, but once you moved the seaweed slightly, there was quite a bit of litter, mostly small pieces broken up by the sea.
No valuable treasures turned up on my patch, nor any particularly exciting any unusual items, but a lot of what I initially took for lollysticks, but looking closer, were actually cotton buds that had been flushed down the toilet, That's the reality of them, the cotton wool breaks down, but the plastic remains and washes up on our beaches. This is why I don't flush anything that's not meant for the toilet. I also found quite a few bottle tops, both plastic pop bottles and metal ones from wine bottles (the brand name was a giveaway), about 20 foot of fishing line, some bits of fabric, broken up polystyrene cups and sweet wrappers. We were cautioned to look out for dog poo (which we weren't obliged to pick up), but thankfully I didn't find any.
We were lucky enough to have a chat with the local mayor, who told us about the work that has already been done to restore the beach to its current state, removing invading grasses which threatened the beach, and placing restrictions on tourism development. He's a local born & bred, and his passion for the area and commitment to the local community was clear. Squeaky was very taken with his chains of office, I think she's making plans for a future career in local politics!
As well as the clean-up event, School of Fish were running a children's CSI WSM activity with items to look for & identify in 4 “crime scene” areas set out on the beach, and a couple of local schools came down for the children to learn more about the coastal environment, how they can make a difference, and why it's so important to protect our coastline. I did hope Squeaky would be able to join in with this, but she was a bit too young, and feeling clingy. The weather stayed dry, but the wind was cold, so she stayed close by and helped us by collecting shells. I now have about 2 dozen tiny shells in my coat pocket, and will have completely forgotten about them by the next time I put my hands in the pockets.
To be honest, Squeaky had a lot more fun before we got onto the beach. The car park where we all met & were briefed was, shall we say, slightly waterlogged. Add a Peppa Pig obsessed 2 year old in wellies, and what do you get? Anyone who said "Jumping up and down in muddy puddles" gets a prize. The prize being muddy jeans.
Unfortunately, due to a bit of bad scheduling between myself and HM Courts & Tribunals Service, we couldn't stick around for the whole event, and made our departures before the nice folk from Marks & Spencers (who were sponsoring the event) got their barbecue started, so we missed out on some great sounding burgers, which they were laying on for all the volunteers after the actual clean up.
We had a really good & interesting morning, I only wish we'd been able to stay a bit longer, though the wind was so cold that Squeaky had had enough when we had to leave anyway. A sunnier day, and some better diary management, and we'd've had a great day out.
It was a strange feeling. I remember going to Sand Bay as a child, but haven't been back in probably 20 years, so seeing places I remember from childhood through an adult's eyes is a weird sensation. It's like when you visit your old school and are amazed how small it all is. It's important to me though, that Squeaky gets to see the places I grew up, even though I know that it's not going to be the same for her and she'll develop her own memories.
The Marine ConservationSociety's Big Beach Clean-Up is taking place on around 150 beaches across the UK over this weekend, with different activities going on in each (I can't promise you all an M&S BBQ, sorry)
I've entered this post to Coombe Mill's Country Kids linky