Thursday, 29 March 2018

the Wight Stuff

Snow does not settle very often in Southampton, due to our proximity to the coast and possibly the extra geothermal energy that is used to generate heat for some parts of the city. However, the storm dubbed the Beast from the East did its best, closing many schools and roads. This left children free to sledge down the steepest hills and fill each others clothes with the freezing white stuff. Lovely!
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that most children will be fascinated by dinosaurs and fossils. My son has always been interested in gem stones and geodes. We visited the Isle of Wight, on a wet and windy March day, to try our hands at some amateur palaeontology. We had the added advantage of a brilliant guide from the Island Gems company.
Felicity, our guide, informed us about the unique geology of this part of the coast and then told us what we should look out for. The weather did not dampen out enjoyment one jot, and or the next two hours we wandered the beach, collecting interesting finds and checking them with Felicity. 
We found fossilised wood embedded with glittering Fool's Gold, dinosaur bones, shells, fish bones, sponges and even a piece of turtle shell (all fossilised). The highlight of the tour was probably the gigantic Iguanadon foot casts that littered the beach, but we could not take these home, unlike our personal hoards of fossils and geodes.
A couple of years ago we visited the Oceanography open day last year, where we met some friends of the forager, who had visited the Agglestone after reading about it here and they kindly directed us to a beach on the Island that is known for these sparkling gems. We did not have time to reach it this time, we had to visit a model village, but we will be returning with tents and hammers later this year.