Sunday, 17 May 2009

Beachcombers' bounty

Whether I’m on holiday or not, I always jump at any opportunity to walk along a beach. Big skies, fresh sea air and a bracing walk are all things that appeal greatly. There’s also something else that’s really special about a seaside stroll – and that’s beachcombing. Everything on the beach tells a story and interpreting the unique history of your finds can be really fascinating - especially if you're a curious sort like me.

You might discover flotsam (floating ship’s cargo/wreckage) and jetsam (washed up maritime waste) ranging from foul-smelling oil barrels and bits of old rope to fragments of coloured glass and unusual shaped fishing floats. Larger pieces of driftwood often end up as works of art adorning the walls of local holiday cottages – these days you can even find them for sale in up-market interiors shops.

Sometimes, you’ll be lucky enough to stumble upon a real curiosity like an old coin, or a message in a bottle. Finding collectable pieces of personal history is always rather exciting – even inspiring (I’m sure there’s a writer, artist or musician in everyone?) Old bits and pieces that you've found on the beach can also be recycled to make all sorts of things - like this colourful piece of jewellery.

As far as natural treasures are concerned, most of the stuff you’ll find along the seashore actually originates in the sea – like pebbles, fossils and semi-precious stones, which are created as a direct result of coastal erosion by the pounding waves. There’s also an eclectic abundance of marine life - much of which is familiar looking, but could you identify the following:

Empty whelk cases – the whelks have already hatched, but they leave these yellowy-white egg cases that look like a cross between bubble wrap and polystyrene;

A mermaid’s purse – the dried, empty egg cases of dogfish or ray;

Sea urchin shells – these make great ornaments when dried out and come in a variety of colours... as does mother of pearl, another very decorative material.

I could add to this list with all manner of extraordinary types of sea creatures, seaweed, jellyfish and worms. My favourite things of all are beautiful shells, coral and – best of all, seahorses.

At ShopCurious, we’ve some very unique accessories made from eco-friendly shells, recycled coral and other beachcomber debris – like this quirky 1950s basket style handbag and this curiously cute vintage seahorse brooch.

You might also like our fabulous hand carved mother of pearl fish pendant, or this impressive shell and bead choker - something of a bargain, as I saw one suspiciously similar in yesterday’s FT Weekend 'How to Spend It' Magazine with a significantly higher price tag. Suggest you snap this one up before the tide turns.

Will you?

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