CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to EADT Suffolk today CLICK HERE

Why you should go beachcombing in Suffolk

PUBLISHED: 13:56 04 September 2018 | UPDATED: 13:56 04 September 2018

Kate Osborne of Beach Bonkers at the Discover Landguard event.

Kate Osborne of Beach Bonkers at the Discover Landguard event.

Kate Osborne is on a mission to share her love of all things coastal, and to help save marine environments | Words: Jayne Lindill

It’s a blustery Tuesday lunch time and I’m on Felixstowe beach with Kate Osborne, head down looking for . . . well, anything really. We’re beachcombing, one of my favourite pastimes. But Kate’s an expert and she’s going to identify my finds.

After about 10 minutes we stop to compare our hauls. Mine looks like the usual mundane collection of stuff – shells, a hag stone, some other possibly interesting stones, tatty bits of seaweed.

But nothing about the beach is mundane to Kate and almost everything is remarkable in its own way.

Actually, I have a lump of sparkly quartz, some London river mud (millions of years old, apparently) and I’m thrilled to learn that my perfectly intact crab shell has probably not been picked clean by a gull looking for lunch, but has been outgrown and shed by its expanding occupant, which is now most likely happily sporting a smart new one somewhere on the bed of the North Sea.

kate osborne on sizewell beachkate osborne on sizewell beach

Speaking of lunch, we head up the beach to the Alex, Felixstowe’s popular cafe/brasserie on the seafront, and find a table among the throng of midweek diners. We settle down and order immediately.

Kate’s in need of hearty sustenance. She’s between a morning sharing all things beachy with 60 school children and a similar session later on with the local Brownies.

Kate runs Beach Bonkers, not so much a business as a mission to help improve the future prospects of our marine environments. It’s not-for-profit, supported by grants from the Suffolk Secrets AONB fund, the Galloper Wind Farm Fund and enabling communities funding.

But mostly it’s run on Kate’s passion, enthusiasm and extraordinary knowledge about what’s on our shores and in our seas. She leads beachcombing walks and workshops, gives talks to community groups and for those who can’t get to the coast, she takes the beach to classrooms, libraries, village halls, wherever. Educating, informing, entertaining, trying to make a difference.

Bank holiday litter from Sizewell beachBank holiday litter from Sizewell beach

Before Beach Bonkers, Kate worked in the NHS, academia and publishing. Office bound and hating it, she knew she was in the wrong job. What she loved was the great outdoors, the marine world she discovered when she spent part of her childhood roaming the Atlantic coast of north-east US.

So, encouraged by her partner, she made a complete career change, added a diploma in countryside management to her human biology degree, and landed a job as ranger at Landguard Nature Reserve at Felixstowe. She then became aproject officer for Touching the Tide, a three-year Heritage Lottery Funded scheme that connected people to all things coastal, and had her ‘lightbulb moment’.

“I thought ‘why are we not taking people out onto the beaches and showing them all the brilliant natural things that a Suffolk beach has?’ So we started doing just that and it was really worthwhile and enjoyable, and it was always really popular.”

As Touching the Tide was coming to an end, Kate needed something else. Here was something, she thought, that could really work.

Sharks' teethSharks' teeth

“Beachcombing is so endlessly fascinating. After every high tide, a walk along a strandline will show you all sorts of things of interest, man-made and natural. No-one starts a beachcomb knowing what they’ll find and no-one finishes disappointed.

And no-one does it without wanting to do it all over again as soon as they can.” And with that she drags out of her copious bags a box divided into many compartments, filled with all sorts of beach goodies. She does a kind of speed-beachcomb, flashing mermaid’s purses, various shells, dried seaweed, sharks’ teeth, sea glass, driftwood, fossils . . . an endless treasure trove.

Her favourite piece? An innocuous looking stone that resembles a halved hard-boiled egg with the yolk scooped out.

“This,” she says, excitedly, “is a fossilised sea sponge, three trillion years old.” Actually, I don’t think she said ‘trillion’ but I’m so fascinated I’ve stopped listening. I stare into the crinkly cavity where a sea sponge once lived. Of course, I can see it now.

Beach findsBeach finds

But for me, the best thing in Kate’s collection, is the thing she waves at me next. A lump of stone, the size of a fist, dark, ridged, it looks like it’s been cast in a furnace. I turn it over in my hands. I have no idea what it is.

“It’s a fossilised woolly mammoth’s tooth, eight gazillion years old,” she says. Again, I think I heard ‘gazillion’ wrong, but who cares? It’s incredibly ancient. “I found it further down the beach one day when I had half an hour to spare. It was just lying there.”

It’s fantastic and I immediately want to go to that bit of the beach and find one of my own, as if there’s some mammoth dental repository there, just waiting to yield up a molar or two.

There’s less romantic stuff in Kate’s hoard, of course, because her work does have an eco-message. There’s plastic human detritus – shreds of coffee cups from the North Sea ferries era decades ago, straws, interdental brushes, a bread wrapper from 1980.

London clay or mud full of rock boring piddocksLondon clay or mud full of rock boring piddocks

They’ll call this the Plastic Age. It’s a hot topic right now, but we humans have a short attention span and I wonder whether we’ll be able to concentrate long enough to tackle the massive problem we’ve created.

Kate’s way is to instil a sense of wonder and respect for marine life that will, hopefully, make people want to look after it.

“This is a rare and fragile habitat that’s full of specially adapted plants and wildlife as well as the evidence of the lives of our sea creatures. Beachcombing helps people to appreciate that and treasure our beaches.”

Possibly medieval potteryPossibly medieval pottery

She’s right – I can’t wait to get out there again.

For a full list of events go to beachbonkers.org.uk.

Contact Kate on 0751 255 7200

_______________

Follow Suffolk Mag on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other EADT Suffolk Magazine visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by EADT Suffolk Magazine staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique EADT Suffolk Magazine account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from People

13:06

October . . . the month for the unusual and the unexplained. Pip Wright delves into Suffolk’s strange, bewildering history of witchcraft | Words: Pip Wright

Read more
Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Tessa Allingham sits down to dinner prepared by some of the county’s most talented chefs and their most promising protegés

Read more
Friday, October 5, 2018

John White has lived and worked at the tiny hamlet of Felixstowe Ferry for almost all of his 79 years | Words & Photos: Mike Trippitt

Read more
Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Thinking of boarding school for your child but have concerns? There might be a flexible boarding option to suit you at Royal Hospital School, Ipswich

Read more
Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Barrister Sarah Langford hopes her fictionalised accounts of some of the challenging cases she’s defended will give people a deeper understanding of the justice system | Words: Catherine Larner - Photo: Sophia Schorr-Kon

Read more
Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Tree sculptor John Williams has embarked on an ambitious storytelling project in the Ickworth House gardens | Words & Photos: Suzy Stennett

Read more
Friday, September 7, 2018

A couple moving from the UK to New Zealand have decided to use their journey to save threatened wildlife, by cycling 21,000 kilometres through 27 countries in 12 months, fundraising for Halesworth-based wildlife charity World Land Trust

Read more
Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Kate Osborne is on a mission to share her love of all things coastal, and to help save marine environments | Words: Jayne Lindill

Read more
Wednesday, August 22, 2018

An exciting new project will unlock Sutton Hoo’s Anglo Saxon past and reveal how it has helped shape who we are today | Words: Jayne Lindill

Read more
Thursday, August 16, 2018

James Henry’s foray into the world of birdwatching in Suffolk provided the backdrop to his latest crime novel | Words: Catherine Larner

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

EADT Suffolk Magazine regular newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy


Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Local Business Directory

Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search