Flotsam and Jetsam

My “Minimalist” photo of the beach

“There’s a simple mnemonic that helps distinguish flotsam from jetsam. Flotsam (or floatsome) are those items which are floating as a consequence of the action of the sea. Jetsam are those which have been jettisoned by a ship’s crew (although that may float too of course).”  www.phrases.org.uk

The waters of the English Channel cast some strange things onto our beaches and I for one am an avid collector of them. One of the few dissapointments with the lovely Dymchurch beach is that the daily tides, (unlike the beaches to the east and south west), yield  nothing very interesting. At somewhere like The Warren, near Folkestone, all manner of treasure is to be had. Dungeness also gets it share of goodies, although when it was less popular, pre- Derek Jarman it was probably much more interesting. Even the shingle at Littlestone yields the odd surprise.

An “odd surprise” washed up at Littlestone

All is not lost though, one of my nicest “finds” at Dymchurch was when I was out walking the dogs about  two years ago. As I peered over the seawall (that first sight of the beach and the sea is always a joyous experience) I saw what looked like hundreds of little brightly coloured balls. Further investigation revealed that they were, in fact oranges. Presumably they had fallen off a passing ship. Tescos’ loss was our gain. Although no longer edible, (salted lemons , great in Morrocan food, but not oranges) they looked fantastic strewn across the golden sand. That’s the nice thing about Dymchurch beach, it’s so flat and empty, any change or interuption stands out. It’s a Minimalists dream stretch of sand. When I walk along the beach even the smallest things become major visual events.

The other day I met a man near the central slipway who was sweeping along with a metal detector. it was bleeping quite frequently. He told me that despite appearances Dymchurch beach is a proper treasure trove. Under the surface you can find Napoleonic musket balls, powder flasks and other assorted militaria from that period. This is left over from when the beach was used as a target practice area. There were, of course a large contingent of soldiers stationed in and around Dymchurch during this time.  Secondly, there are the finds from the First and Second world wars. Lastly (and most lucratively) the loose change misplaced by recent visitors, with the odd wedding ring thrown in as an occasional bonus.

Napoleonic Treasure Hunters wait for the military to clear off…

It’s funny really, there’s a Time Capsule on the Seawall which will be opened in 100 years time. That’s fine, but the real treasure on the vast Dymchurch beach is hidden right in front of us, below the  sand.

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Back to Normal Again!

We’re having great weather here – so it must be late September. There is no better place than the Romney Marsh in early Autumn – well, some people would probably argue with that, but at this time there’s a special quality to this little corner of the South East. Maybe it’s because all  the the thousands of visitors have left and returned to Walford, or similar places, I don’t know.

Whatever the reason it means we can go out on our bikes and meander about the Marsh in peace and safety, without fear of  large black BMW ‘s appearing at high speed on the wrong side of the road. It’s time to appreciate the tranquility and peacefulness of this beautiful part of the world.

No matter how industrialised farming has become, there’s still something that gives you an inner glow at harvest time.

Agricultural Multi Functional Transportation Unit

Last week the farmers pretty well finished the harvesting, so the gigantic John Deere tractors have also vanished from the lanes to a great extent. Its amazing how much bigger tractors are now. I have noticed that there have been a lot more bales of hay in the fields this year. I have it from a good farming source that it’s been an excellent year for hay, unlike in alot of the more wetter parts of the country.

Proper Tractor

It would appear the cylindrical style bales are very “last year” now and a more retro box- like shape is “de rigeur”.  We were out blackberrying the other day and saw three large Hungarian trucks loading up with bales at the farm up Eastbridge Road. The squarish shaped bales fitted perfectly into the wagons. Apparently we are exporting hay to eastern Europe. How strange is that?

http://www.hay-straw-haylage.co.uk/ Have a look at this if you’re a hay anorak (you know who you are)

Hay ready for export

Very “last year” style of bales

Back on the subject of hedgerow foraging, the Sloes which normally hang in great numbers from the Blackthorn hedges are in short supply this year. It’s going to be a struggle to harvest enough to make a decent bottle of Sloe Gin.

This summer seems to have passed really quickly, my mind is increasingly occupied with planning lessons for my Art History classes. These start  at Hythe and Dymchurch in early October.

Meanwhile in the skies above Dymchurch we have, in the last few days, had the recurring sight of a Spitfire aeroplane flanked by two helicopters. This odd threesome make their way back and forward across the Marsh around fifteen times a day. Apparently you can pay (£400?) to go in the helicopters and watch while the Spitfire carries out manouvres a la Battle of Britain ( fortunately no Luftwaffe about) At first the sight of this iconic WW2 plane in the skies above Dymchurch, was an exciting thing to witness.  It’s getting a bit tedious now. So can we have a Lancaster or a Wellington, just for a change?

As I write, the little trains on the Romney Hythe and Dymchurch railway continue to trundle by http://www.rhdr.org.uk/ . When they stop running for the season you know Christmas is not far away.

Roll on the Indian Summer.