It has been a pretty decent summer here in Filey Bay. We have had our share of good weather, and there has been lots of interesting events going on.
At the end of July, those lovely people from the Filey Bay Initiative put on a ‘walk and talk’ event around the bay and onto Filey Brigg. The purpose, to look at the geology of the area and hopefully spot a few fossils along the way.
The poster advertised the event as ‘The Geology and Fossils of Filey Bay – Not Just a Load of Old Rocks!’ It sounded just the thing. It went on to promise that the adventure would be led by a real live geologist. Better and better I thought. All I had to do was turn up at high noon, on right the day, at the meeting point on Coble Landing.
Now I don’t know why, but in the days leading up to this event I became convinced that an ‘event’ about rocks and fossils would be of interest to a few gentrified folk, keen on a stroll and on gaining a bit of useful information which they could impressively impart over lunch whenever the conversation got a bit thin.
Because of the lack of a real audience, I would be able to interrogate the tame Geologist to my heart’s content, whilst the ‘others’ where pulled along in our wake enjoying the intellectual conversation, the witty repartee and the useful geological banter.
Just how wrong can you be ………………………………
As the clock approached midday on the appointed day, I swaggered jauntily and confidently along the Coble Landing. Attired appropriately, I felt, in my best ‘Geology costume’. A slightly worn tweedy checked shirt, sleeves rolled of course, and an old fishing vest over. I wore my second best walking trousers with uncleaned hiking boots. The notebook in my hand, and wide-brimmed stock-man’s hat on my head completed the ensemble.
At the sight that greeted me as I approached the end of the landing, my earlier swaggeryness and jauntiness began dissipating and deflating, rapidly.
I was aware of quite a large number of folk milling around. At first I dismissed them as the usual throng of high summer holiday makers. But then in the middle of the crowd I spotted a tall thin academic type wearing a much better hat than me. He seemed to be fielding questions with great relish from an attentive audience, which as a came within earshot were definitely geological related, and indeed they seemed pretty technical and complex in nature. I finally had to accept that this was my tour and these were my people. I hastily began to re-evaluate.
Having rapidly done so, and before I embarrass myself beyond a point of credibility, I wish to make the following statement. “Despite having an easy ability to assume the guise of an experienced Geologist/Fossil Hunter, my knowledge about said subjects are practically zero beyond the first Jurassic Park film, and knowing where the Rotunda Museum in Scarborough is”.
Feeling better for getting that out in the open, I feel able to don my more appropriate ‘man of the people’ guise.
The crowd of followers made for a mixed and diverse group. The young and the not so. Families, couples and singles; they all wore whatever they wanted. And children, lots and lots of children, they wore brightly coloured wellies and almost all of them clutched a bucket of the sandcastle building variety. Some were already showing off the unknown (to me) contents proudly to anyone who would gaze in. Yes, a varied collection of folk all obviously eager and excited to take set off on this geological jamboree.
I had now fully realised that this event would be somewhat different to that which I was expecting. So as magnanimously as I could, I did what the defeated do, I capitulated. I asked the nearest five-year old to show me what was in his bucket.
This is how I met Aaron. Aaron was the five-year old boy grinning up at me and thrusting his bucket of fossil treasure ardently in my direction. He was clearly delighted at the fresh interest now being shown in the contents. Dressed in shorts and spider-man tee-shirt, both clearly supporting the remnants of his latest meal. His pair of bright red wellies made his feet look huge. With a machine gun style of verbal delivery, I eventually gathered from Aaron, after a bit of a struggle, that the contents of the bucket included various bits of fossils, I’m sure the word ‘Ammonites’ was mentioned more than once.
At this point I also discovered Aaron had his own personal interpreter. His mother. Obviously proud of her son’s every action, ever vigilant she was never more than five paces behind the racy youngster. Clearly anticipating whenever his explanations, which to my inexperienced geological brain seemed extremely comprehensive were about to falter, she completed the end of his sentences until his brain caught up with his vocal chords. Aaron was clearly the apple of his mother’s eye.
It turned out that Aaron had been hunting fossils almost since the womb; and certainly since before eleven o’clock this morning, judging from the ample contents of his bucket.
Later, ‘John’ the wonderful Geologist leading the way, told me how much he enjoyed talking with young people about his subject. They were really interested, they listened intently, and were often incredibly knowledgeable on the subject. Any factual errors he made would be instantly pounced upon, and more than once he had found himself being corrected by a seven-year old.
He did also provide a beautifully simple way to explain why five-year olds make excellent Fossil Hunters. “Their eyes are so much closer to the ground”, he exclaimed.
And so with a wave from John, en-mass we began off striding down the beach at the beginning of an immense geological journey. It was all rather thrilling, despite the awkwardness of the start. At this point Aaron decided he wanted a wee.
To be continued ………………………………………………………………………
Echo Sweetly BV
Proprietor and Editor, A Gentleman Adventurer’s Chronicle