04 May 2009

river bank holiday

As we were walking across the Millennium Bridge from the north to the south I noticed a set of steps I'd never seen before leading down to the shore. The tide was out and the sun was shining so even though we weren't quite dressed for beach scoggling, the temptation was too much. As usual, it was the stones that caught my eye, beautiful granite slabs, serving some unknown redundant purpose perhaps.

John was wondering whether you need a licence to collect the small slabs of york stone washed up on the shore. We only need a few more bits for our allotment paths and there was plenty there just the right size. Too big for our pockets and I only had a small handbag, so we had to make do with arranging our finds on them instead.

Lovely old oyster shells, beautiful blue and white, ochre and brown glazed pottery, flints and cockleshells, rib bones and worn white pipe stems.

And a tiny sea beet - I think that is what it is -at least 15 feet below the high water mark. I think you can eat this stuff, though it would be a pity to harvest something clinging on so tenaciously.

I had to do some clinging on myself when I got a little too near the edge of the water. I'd filled my pockets with bits of crockery and had thoughts of literary ladies drowning...

We made it across to the Tate in the end, over the bridge that is, to see this and I came home thinking of odd shapes and new skirt fabrics covered in chains and cranes and tractors.


kristina said...

What amazing finds! It never would have occurred to me you could find so many wonderful things on the banks right in the middle of London. K x

Kate said...

Your riverbank finds are such numinous fragments of the city in earlier centuries...and I'm afraid your laden pockets put me in mind of Wollstonecraft.

"It was night when she arrived at Putney, and by that time it had begun to rain with great violence. The rain suggested to her the idea of walking up and down the bridge, till her clothes were thoroughly drenched and heavy with the wet, which she did for half an hour without meeting a human being. She then leaped from the top of the bridge, but still seemed to find a difficulty in sinking, which she endeavoured to counteract by pressing her clothes closely round her. After some time she became insensible; but she always spoke of the pain she underwent as such, that, though she could afterwards have determined upon almost any other species of voluntary death, it would have been impossible for her to resolve upon encountering the same sensations again."

Godwin's Memoir (1798). Can you imagine? Seriously terrifying.

Kate said...

PS something about your arrangement of the shells and bones and the blue & white china also put me in mind of Netscher's lace maker.

j said...

Happy you didn't fall in the drink. But John would have saved you, and you would have been in all the papers! ;)

I'm much taken with your word: scoggling.

Anonymous said...

Those stones are so interesting - I wonder what all the little notches were for? Love your riverbank finds.

Juliet said...

What a fantastic collection of finds - I'm really envious!