Last weekend after particularly heavy seas the high-tide line was thick with smelly debris, a whole new collection of treasures. There was no need to go out amongst the rock-pools, or to dive deep. The sea itself brought in (amongst the familiar seaweed) sponges, crinoids and driftwood, and laid them out for me along the beach in a strip about 40 cm wide.
The crinoids (if that's what they are) are completely new to me At first sight they looked like the paintings on the walls of my daughter's rented Warsaw apartment – a representation of raw entrails – or some alien creature from a sci-fi movie. It was hard to imagine what kind of sea dweller they were, but a scurry through reference books suggested a sea lily, beautiful when complete with tentacles, and not at all like intestines. It was interesting to note that they have an extensive fossil presence.
Drawing of a sea lily by Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919). From Wikimedia commons
My old obsession with photographing bark took on a new dimension when I picked up two beautiful pieces of driftwood: bleached to a purity of white, cream, grey and almost apricot; worn away and pitted by their time in the sea; twisted-lacy and smooth-coiled.