I’ve taken to picking things up off the beach (who am I kidding – I’ve always picked stuff up off the beach).
I found this stone which has some interesting stripes, but when I got it home and it dried out, it looked like any old rock.
So my husband varnished it and now it sits on the windowsill and when the sun is shining, the rock appears to shine from within. The photos don't really do it justice.
The other day we spotted this. At almost 6cms across, it is the biggest limpet shell I’ve ever seen, although they can grow about 1cm bigger than that.
We used to call them Witches Hats when I was a child and they weren’t as common as cockles, mussels, winkles, clams, razor shells, oysters, whelks and slipper limpets. I’ve always thought they were unusual and special.
Turns out they’re Common Limpets (Patella Vulgata – which makes them sound like a rude kneecap).
But they are special! They cling to rocks with a force of 75lbs per square foot. They clamp down when the tide goes out and can slow down their metabolism in order to survive until the tide comes back in.
How much they eat defines the shape of their shell. This one would have been a hungry limpet which spent most of its time under water seeing plenty of wave action. Well fed ones in quieter waters have flatter shells.
For the first year of their lives, they are neither one thing nor the other, then they often become males. After a few years about a third will turn into females.
They stop our seashores being overrun with weed and they can live for around twenty years.
Fascinating little things. But they’re still witches hats.
Talking about fascinating, how about the little fairy doors amongst the lovely photos at Jaunts Around Ireland? There are a couple of places on our lovely old oak tree where a little door might look rather twee. You can probably see where I’m thinking of in this photo… of Dusty!