Greetings my dear chums
It is rather alarming to discover that there have been huge cataclysmic events, intensely geological in nature, occurring quite regularly in the past, which until today I have been blissfully unaware of.
You will often read modern media reports of ‘significant’ earth events. Of flood and flame. Of famine and virus. Of the unspeakable doings of Tsunamis. Of the immense power released during volcanic activity, and the ability of their resultant ash clouds to cancel package holidays. Of the extinction of creatures, and of threat from rising sea levels to low-lying land. The words ‘climate’ and ‘change’ are popular and regularly used.
As terrifying as these events are, they are almost the blink of an eye when compared to the ‘news of the past’ delivered with every stride of this riveting geological ramble by John, the tame geologist.
He issues forth upon one monumental planet changing event after another to illustrate the amazing rollercoaster ride that has been our planet’s journey of evolution.
He confidently whizzes through events of a millennium of millennia’s at breakneck speed. As he did so, he was able to draw vivid verbal sketches illustrating catastrophe and calamity. With every step he reveals such startling changes to the basic order of life. Fundamental changes to the balance of the flora and fauna, to the landscape and the environment. He made an eternity of earth time, seem like a ‘stroll in the park’, or ‘a wander along the beach’ as in our group’s case.
Indeed, so rapid was his progress through the earth’s history, that I was left a little giddy by the experience . In fact I was still plodding and spinning through this haze of information when I almost collided with a fellow explorer who had come to a stop in front. ‘En-mass’ we had come to a standstill in front of ‘point of interest number one’.
Aaron, my new five-year old geology pal had no such problems handling the challenging data we were being served. Indeed, with the added vim and vigour that the relief of emptying a bladder provides, he was running about wildly, spotting and spying tiny pieces of our fossilised past which surprisingly, to me at least, were scattered all over the beach.
After a cursory glance to ensure it was in fact an aged lump, (Aaron was never wrong), he would speed up to John’s side and challenge him to provide an immediate and informed opinion upon his latest discovery. To give John his due, he rose to the challenge magnificently.
Before I knew what was happening I was caught up in the web of science and romance John was spinning. It was a heady mixture. I regret to say that I am unable to recall what exactly ‘point of interest number one was’, nor indeed any others as we spent the next couple of hours processing around the bay and out onto Filey Brig. I was far too interested in the ‘big’ picture being painted on to the massive canvas to take in the detail that day.
There was amazing accounts of the mass extinction of species. The mysteries surrounding seventy million year gaps in fossils layers. Of continents crashing and colliding and rearing and submitting. About ice ages and goodness knows what else.
I suspect in an effort to ‘make it real’, John’s, by now disciples, were challenged to explain how Shap granite, a gloriously pink and vibrant rock, could be strewn all over the beach in Filey Bay? It is at least 150 miles away from its home in the high Cumbrian Fells.
The answer, came to be like a breath of cold air hitting my lungs. Glaciers. The ‘Ice Age’ is apparently not just a cute Disney creation. There were huge glaciers trundling about all over the place colliding and dividing, picking up and dropping their deposits here, there and everywhere, almost making a mockery of the landscape.
I was hooked completely by now. As I look out into the bay I could see a procession of mountainous icebergs, dazzling white in the bright sunlight go sailing majestically by! How breathtaking. How magical.
(‘Magical’ is not a scientific word I realise, however it was the word I needed for the description of what had been a most memorable day).
John just didn’t let up in his crusade to convert us to the church of geology. There was strange talk about ‘pauses in the sediment’. About Alum mining on the coast north of the bay revealing the huge quantities of spectacular fossilised creatures and thousand of footprints documenting the lives and times of the armies of dinosaurs who marched through this land.
A door was opened for me that day. A way forward to new adventures into other, as yet, undreamt kingdoms, with other, as yet, unseen guides and fellow travellers.
I sincerely hope that you will take to my journeys of earthly discovery. And in the future dear reader, together we shall see what we shall see.
In the meantime I sincerely offers my thanks the ‘Filey Bay Initiative’ for the doorway. To ‘John’, the exceptional (and tame) geologist, for opening the door wide enough to give me a glimpse of what is inside, and finally to my five-year old pal ‘Aaron’, who welcomed me in, and allowed me to share his bucket.
I shall remember fondly the sight of Aaron at the end of our adventure. I glimpsed him in the distance as he raced at high-speed back along the Coble Landing and back into the 21st century, his mother not far behind. He was intent I think upon a plate of chips.
Echo Sweetly BV
Proprietor and Editor, A Gentleman Adventurer’s Chronicle