Thursday, 24 April 2014

U is for Unusual Partners, Underground Caves ...


Unusual partnerships – Hermit crabs do not have shells of their own, so, as they grow, need to look for shells of dead animals in which hide their soft bodies ...

Hermit Crab inside Whelk shell,
without an accompanying anemone
... often the anemones on those rejected shells are carefully removed by the previous owner, the hermit crab, to the new shell!


Three in a bed” ...  the hermit crab, the anemone and the whelk shell ...


Hermit crabs queue up and on checking the empty shell for size – the most suitably sized hermit crab steps up ... moves house, anemones and all ... leaving ...


... another shell free for the same process ... somewhat reminds me of the little one said rollover ...

Hermit Crab in its hidden shell
with a Calliactis Anemone in a
symbiotic relationship

Perhaps more appropriately this behaviour is known as “vacancy chains” – a new phrase for the estate agency business?


Predator-prey relationships ... we know well ... but on the seashore ... different relationships happen for a reason:



Parasitism: one partner, the parasite, gains, but the other, the host, loses ... eg shore crabs are host to Sacculina – a strange creature related to the barnacles. 


Young shore crab with the
parasitic Sacculina (highlighted in
 yellow) attached to its underside
Sacculina attaches itself to a young crab (highlighted in yellow) and then grows “tentacles” that eat into the crab’s body, thus gaining nourishment and disabling the crab.


A ‘better’ name perhaps is a “parasitic castrator of crabs” ... I feel uncomfortable and sad!



Another type of relationship, but this time in which both partners benefit, is called symbiosis.  The hermit crab and the calliactis anemone live this way .. the anemone doesn’t harm the hermit host ...

  
c/o their web page
Up above the pointer is the harbour ... the land around
had sea ingresses in the past ...I'm not sure where the
cave system exits as such, for the deck chair hire


U is for underground caves, such as the system, that is known as Kents Cavern is to be found in Torquay, Devon.







The caverns and passages at the site were created around 2 million years ago ... and have been occupied by at least eight separate, discontinuous native populations known to have inhabited the British Isles.


Torquay 1811

The site has been privately owned for over 100 years ... and in those early years both Beatrix Potter (1893) and Agatha Christie, who lived in Torquay, visited ...



The caves were originally used as a storage and carpentry workshop in the manufacture of deck chairs ... for the Victorian tourists ...

Torquay 1842
You can see the change in the
harbour as trade opened up in
late Georgian and early Victorian
times

... now its very modern visitor attraction gives us an opportunity to see spectacular geological formations and significant historic finds, some 700,000 years old ...


More information can be found in Wikipedia and at this BBC site on the new visitor centre in 2004 ...





“Hampsley Cavern” in Agatha Christie’s 1924 novel The Man in the Brown Suit is based on the cave system she experienced during her cavern visits.






That is U for unusual non-ubiquitous unpromising, yet successful partnerships ... and U is for the ultimate Underground prehistoric cave system that is Kents Cavern ... to be found non-understatedly in the pleasure town of Torquay ... as part of Aspects of British Coasts ...



Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

T is for Tides, Trades of the tide, Tourism ...


Again I could have had many choices for T ... Tidal Flats (M), Tide Race (Q ), Tidal Pools (I and N), Tidal Zones (Z), Tentacles (U) ...



"Between the Tides" by Walter Langley
of the Newlyn School of Artists

... but we’ll start with T for Tides ... those phenomena of the seas, that are hard to explain ...



Julius Caesar first learnt of the tides when he came to Britain, where the tide may make a difference of 40 feet to the depth of water, whereas in the Mediterranean it is at most six inches: do you think he gaped?







The science: the gravitational forces of the moon, sun and earth combine to give two high and two low tides a day (in most parts of the UK).








Though smaller than the sun, the moon has a greater gravitational pull on the oceans because it is nearer the earth.





High tides occur about every 12 hours 25 minutes apart, and are 50 minutes later each day ... due to the moon taking 24 hours and 50 minutes to circle the earth.


Low Tide Lelant Saltings, St Ives Bay


The depth of the ocean and coastal configuration affects the tides – for example when it is high tide in Dover, Kent ... it is low tide at Falmouth, Cornwall.



Local, quite unusual tide patterns may occur.  Both at Southampton, and on the other side of the Channel near Cherbourg, a prolonged or double high tide occurs with four, or even six, high tides a day.  Poole and Weymouth in Dorset have four.

August 2013 Ryde, Isle of Wight tide table


Tide Tables are used for tidal prediction and show the daily times and heights of high water and low water, usually for a particular location: essential for day trippers, tourist offices, fishermen, lifeboat institutions ...

  






  • fishing and fishing with fish pits (traps/”kettles” (K));


    Maldon Salt Co - est 1882
  • eels caught in baskets,


  • oysters, mussels, limpets, cockles,


  • foraging ... seakale, samphire, seaweeds ...
Sea Kale


  • Duck decoy ponds ... 


  • Salt extraction – e.g. Maldon Crystal Salt ... which was also used in salt-glazed pottery ...
Barging Blocks, Blackwater River,
Essex - Cooks Yard


  • Ship Building and Repair yards ...


  • Barge transportation of goods – when sea transport was faster than across the countryside ... before proper roads and railways ...
Sailing Barge Thalatta -
launched 1906


  •   ... farm produce up to London; horse manure, seaweed for fertilizer, lime, coal and other cargoes on the return journey: called ‘London mixture’ ...




  • Kentish rag stone was brought up from Kent ... and used to build up the sea walls and helped in the reclamation of marshland.
Blackpool - tower and prom;
theatre and visitor centre,
big wheel, big dipper, lots of hotel rooms


T is for Tourism ... in all its guises ...


  • swimming and bathing from early times ...


  • Sailing for pleasure ...


  • Visitor centres

    Dunes, sands and low water sea
  • Aquaria



  • Promenades and Piers ...


  • Sand and Sea through our toes ...



  • ... and more as the public devise new activities along our shores ...


That is T for trembling tearaway tides, tortuous tide tables, troublesome tidal races ... T for terribly tough trades ... or T for our modern delights of tourism necessities ... from Aspects of British Coasts ...


PS! I need to add a post I wrote last year on an exhibition I saw on the trades in Cornwall, recorded by the Newlyn artists back at the beginning of the 1900s: Amongst Heroes: Artists in Working Cornwall


Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

S for Seaside Shock, Sea Shells, Strands, Shipworms ...


The letter ‘S’ offers many a word for a seashore post ...


The Seething Sea ceaseth and thus the Seething Sea Sufficeth us”


... a tongue twister if there ever was one ...


... the one we might know better is Terry Sullivan’s tongue twister, inspired by Mary Anning, the great fossil collector and palaeontologist, written in 1908 ... asper my N post.


 
Seashells hand picked from beach
drift on a north Welsh beach, near
Shell Island, near Harlech Castle

She sells sea-shells on the sea-shore
The shells she sells are sea-shells, I’m sure
For if she sells sea-shells on the sea-shore
Then I’m sure she sells sea-shore shells.





Shells from the Essex coast


Some shells we might find on the strands ... as a child to collect is an instructive thing: a way of understanding thingnot possessing it ...



Here are a few of the shells we find around our shores .. in Wales and on the Essex coast ...




S is for a literary Strand ...  Daphne du Maurier wrote “The House on the Strand” – based on Tywardreath village, which translates from the Cornish language into the title of the book ... the village being on a silted up estuary ...



Then S for Seaside Shock as we head for the shores after the storms of the winter 2013/2014 ...




... many of the country’s most treasured beaches have changed drastically ... sand dunes in some areas were washed away leaving sheer sand cliffs ...

Exposed timber forest at Borth, Wales


... on other beaches access points have changed and shifting sand has left deep channels that in turn create rip currents, which are very dangerous to swim in ...



Shifting sands have created towering sand dunes up to 35 feet (10 m) high over a long stretch of the beach at Cefn Sidan on the Camarthenshire coast ...


The Devon railway at Dawlish - Brunel's West Coast
Railway line - destroyed by the storms 2013/2014

Studland Bay, Dorset, lost up to 35 feet (10 m) of its beach ...


Storms caused chaos ... trees uprooted, paths destroyed, beach huts smashed, seven years' of chalk cliff erosion in Sussex ...



Shipworms' borings in a modern
wharf piling - the coin is 19mm across
... The National Trust who manages many miles of our coastline has called for a major rethink about storms and flooding – how do we adapt ... we can’t beat nature ... we need to work with it.


S is for Shipworms ... these creatures bore and over millennia have caused serious damage to timber ships, piers and wooden piles ...


... borings in fossilized wood found in London clay deposits are proof that shipworms were active in the British Isles 50 million years ago ...



... swelling timbers did not crush the shipworm ... this was inspirational for the French engineer Marc Brunel (Isambard Brunel’s father) who, based on his observations designed an ingenious modular iron tunnelling framework:


The tunnelling shield used by the
Brunels in the construction of
the Thames Tunnel 1825 - 1843

 – a tunnelling shield – which enabled workers to tunnel successfully through the highly unstable river bed beneath the Thames ... the Thames Tunnel was the first successful large tunnel ever built under a tidal and navigable river.





That is S for the seething seas, stormy surf, seaside sacrifices, silty seashells, songwriting tongue-twisters ... saltywater shipworms that are found in Aspects of British Coasts ...



Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories 

Monday, 21 April 2014

R is for Rocks, Runnels and Ridges, Rhynes ...


R is for Rocks – so many types make up our shores and coasts ... hard rocks such as granites, basalts, and some sandstones are resistant to erosion ...

Old Man of Hoy, part of the Orkney
archipelago - showing Old Red
Sanstone


...  and often form high headlands and tall, stable cliffs on which plants can gain a footing, or birds can roost ... or crumbling cliffs from those ancient seas ...



Victor Hugo, captured by his
son, on a granite outcrop -
in Jersey, Channel Islands


Granite is a rough-grained igneous rock that originally formed deep inside the Earth.  Granite Rocks are found in many parts of Britain ... and are shown in this photo of Victor Hugo taken by his son leaning on a granite outcrop in Jersey, one of the Channel islands ...




c/o Southampton University - showing
Kimmeridge Oil Shale, Dorset


Soft Rocks from ancient seas, such as chalk and limestone, are sedimentary in origin: the settled out remains of plants and animals.



Shale is one of these soft rocks, solid mud, which splits easily along the layers in which it was laid down, but is quickly eroded in a coastal situation ...

... however, when found deep in the earth and heated, can produce crude oil.



An iphone photo of an oil painting I own - showing
Perranporth sands, Cornwall - the runnels and ridges

Ridge and Runnel systems are formed due to the interaction of tides, currents, sediments and the beach topography ... they will only form on shallow gradient beaches ...


I experienced these in Cornwall looking down from the dunes above Lelant beach, St Ives Bay ... and from the air when I was gliding at Perranporth ... takes me back to my youth!


You can see the ridges which dip into the runnels ... as the tide comes in they sweep through the runnels ... sometimes leaving a little one stranded on a mini sandbank amongst the ridges and runnels ...

A trackway today over the Levels


Rhyne in Somerset (Reen in south Wales) is a drainage ditch used to turn areas of wetland around sea level into useful pasture.




c/o British Geological Survey
- land available for access about
8,000 years ago


These have been ‘farmed’ since pre-historic times ... as found in early dwellings and the trackways they created to move around, which have been preserved in the constantly soaked landscape.





c/o British Geological Survey
- that land now under water
one thousand years later -
7,000 years ago, after the sea
levels rose

Tree-ring dating confirms that the date of the bog-wood timbers used in the Sweet Track (named after Mr Sweet!) to be 3,807 or 3,806 BC ...




Ice Age melts, sea storms and rain storms have made a continual impact on the Somerset Levels with their drainage Rhynes ... and no doubt will continue to do so ...


That is R for rough, rugged, rust-coloured Rocks, or the rolling softer crusts of the sedimentary layers, for Ridges and Runnels – the shadow and lights of the sand, and the ancient drainage Rhynes adopted by the prehistoric peoples of aeons ago ... from Aspects of British Coasts ...



Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Q is for Quicksand, Quartz, Quay ...


Quicksand is an area of wet, moving sand unable to bear the weight of a man.  Quicksands are not extensive, often occur in estuaries, and are generally of temporary nature in the British Isles.
 
Morecambe Bay

A beach may have quicksands one year and not the next ... Morecambe Bay in North-west England is a notoriously dangerous bay ...


... its quicksand extends across the estuary, which can be crossed using an ancient and potentially lethal tidal crossing.


Believe it or not there is a royal appointed guide: The Queen’s Guide to the Sands: since the 16th century.
 
Abandoned car on the sands of
Morecambe Bay ... it's about
400m (1,300 ft) from the shore

Until the building of the railway in 1857, the cross sands way had been a major transport route in the area ... it is now a challenge walk for charity fundraisers.


However sadly the bay is known for its quicksands and fast moving tides (it is said that the tide can come in “as fast as a horse can run”): ten years ago 23 Chinese immigrant cockle pickers, run by gang-masters, drowned after being cut off by the tides.  An appalling and dreadful scenario.


Granite rocks at Land's End

Q is for Quartz – silicon is the most abundant element in rocks. 


Crystallised as quartz, it provides the material for sand grains, flints, and man-made glass and helps to build granite and other massive rocks.


Quartz sand grains
In rocks, it is mixed with other minerals, but can also appear as veins.


Quartz is a hard and durable material, resistant to chemical erosion and weathering.  Sand grains are fragments of older rocks that are worn down to granules in river beds, or on the seashore.



Rose quartz - not from the UK
Coloured varieties of quartz are valued as gems and include violet amethysts, dark red jasper, and the rare rose quartz ...

Clear Quartz Rock
Crystal Jug - c 1,000 AD
not from the UK


White quartz veins are a guide to gold in some regions, as in Wales ...



A translucent form of quartz with small crystals is chalcedony – a semi-precious stone ...



New Quay - a fishing village on
the west coast of Wales
A Quay – until the early 19th century, a fishing village would be a few thatched cottages surrounded by agricultural land, the natural harbour providing a safe mooring for fishing boats and a few small trading vessels.


As trading activity increased ... slate and coal in Wales, minerals and fish from Cornwall ... stone piers were constructed to enclose the harbour, giving greater protection to the ever larger vessels ...


That is Q for quivering, querulous quicksands, quickening quartz and quadripartite quays with their stone piers, promenades, fishing boats and small cottages ... now commercial centre – large or small ... from Aspects of British Coasts ... 


Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories