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free days out

Shark Teeth

Posted on 17th October 2010 in fossils/ free days out/ shark teeth/ walton beach/ walton on the naze

In my usual quest for something FREE to do with the kids, this weekend I decided we would head over to Walton on the naze.

The boys asked me the usual “Are we doing anything today?”

Me: “Yes, we are going to fail to find something”

Smartarse son: “Cool, we’re going to Walton.”

Me: “So, what are we going to fail to find then?”

Smartarse son: “Shark teeth.”

Me: “So, how many will we fail to find?”

Smartarse son: “All of them I should think.”

Me, under breath: “Smartarse.”

Walton beach is great, it’s got a real mix of sand, clay and shingle – kind of appeals to all. It also has pill boxes actually on the beach itself which I think is really cool.

There are literally lumps of clay all over the beach, makes me want to be an art teacher just so I can bag it up and lug it to class. Probably the wrong type of clay but that’s kind of irrelevant I guess.

Apparently you have to look in a certain place to find the shark teeth – rumour has it you have to look in ‘The foreshore, within the shingle and pyrites’. I think that means in this stuff below?

No one, I repeat, no one walks along the beach with their head up. Absolutely everyone, of all ages, either walks with their head casually down or goes for a full on hunker down and grope about in the sand and debris – they are ALL looking for shark teeth!

According to my boys, you have to watch out for the quick sand though so be careful…

If You Go Down To The Woods Today

Posted on 9th October 2010 in bluebottle grove/ English Heritage/ family/ fire/ free days out/ lexden earthworks/ trees

We have an open fire in the lounge which is lovely but does use a lot of wood.

Today’s mission for the children was to collect kindling and sticks from the nearby woods. We are very fortunate to live 5 mins away from Lexden Earthworks and BlueBottle Grove which are banks and ditches of  late Iron Age defences protecting the western side of Camulodunum (pre-Roman Colchester). There are also many pre-Roman graves, including Lexden Tumulus, allegedly the burial place of the British chieftain Cunobelinus.

This is – apparently – an awesome climbing tree

Wood stock now nicely replenished :)

Sorry for picture quality – all from my phone.

Mersea Island – the forgotten beach?

Posted on 2nd September 2010 in bank holiday/ beach/ children/ coffee/ east of england/ family/ free days out/ Mersea/ parenting/ sand castles/ smitten by britain

Bank Holiday Monday in the UK and 4 boys to entertain…..

We took a quick peak at the tide times and drove to Mersea Island. You have to check the tide before setting off as to get to Mersea Island you have to cross a road that connects the Island to the main land and it floods at high tide.

According to Wikipedia: Mersea Island (formerly Mersey Island) is the most easterly inhabited island in the United Kingdom, located marginally off the coast of Essex, England, 9 miles (14 km) to the southeast of Colchester. It is situated in the estuary area of the Blackwater and Colne rivers and has an area of around 7 square miles (18 km2)[1]. The name ‘Mersea’ is derived from the Old English meresig meaning ‘island of the pool’.

We parked at one of the many free car parks near the beach and popped to the handy cafe/shop to buy 2 coffees and 2 bucket & spade sets.

The boys were split into pairs and given the buckets & spades. We hunkered down on a picnic blanket and supped our coffee to keep warm!

Although as a family we do enjoy the excitement of a more ‘touristy’ sea side, we often come to Mersea Island because the beach is so quiet. I have never been  unable to park, or unable to find a nice space on the beach – far from it! We often find that we have an entire stretch of beach to ourselves.

Mersea also boasts a country park where kite flying is virtually compulsory, for some reason it always seems to be windy there! Further inland there are some unique shops and quirky cafes that are well worth exploring and the Marina is a must for boat lovers.

In case you don’t know, Mersea Island is famous for it’s Oysters. If you come along at the right time, the beach is littered with Oysters just waiting to be collected.

The beach is lined by a really cute row of beach huts. People do amazing things with their beach huts, I’ve seen some that are no more than storage sheds, some that are a beach base complete with table and chairs and even one that had a complete bar at the back and a BBQ out front!

We had to leave after a couple of hours as the great British weather got the last laugh and it poured with rain! Just before we left I managed to take a cheeky photo of an elderly couple who had gingerly picked their way across the pebbles to have a paddle in the sea. They had bare legs and feet and held hands all the way down the beach :)

For more UK travel blogs visit @smittnbybritain

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