Six days into the New Year and still it rains. The outlook from the house is a grey one but I must be undeterred to take myself out for fresh air and exercise. So the day after our Baie d’Ecalgrain jaunt I make a short trip to the north coast of the Cotentin and park by the blockhaus site at Neville sur Mer. I’m to see what sort of strandlines there might be there.
The tide is coming in and washing before it tangles of fucoids and kelp. Little else. Even looking at the strandlines at the top of the beach they are remarkably clean of other detritus. Which is a good thing, in a way. So little in the way of plastic, decaying organic matter and nothing to excite the attentions of a hopeful beachcomber. So I walk the waterline eastwards and the upper driftline back. Two solitary fisherfolk and a walker or two are the only other human presences on that windswept beach. Nearing the end of my walk I catch sight of a splash of pink. It is a Pecten shell, chipped at the edge but a bright item to enliven an otherwise drab substrate. The pink matches the other splash of pink that caught my eye this morning as I walked across to the storeroom to look for some ingredients. The camellia which I potted last year, because it was clearly failing in the flowerbed where all the Hellebores are, has rallied: the leaves have re-greened and there are a few buds and some flowers already open. I now think I will pot the other two camellias to keep on the terrace too.
The following day I choose to investigate my beach pockets at Pointe de Saire and Nick accompanies me. The wind has come up but the rain holds off for the duration of our ‘balade’ across the middle of the day. My so-called beach pockets appear to have been swamped by sand. It is evident from the sweeps of sand creating irregular sand waves and ridges that large amounts of sediment are being moved around those rock outcrops where the beach pockets occur. The fresh deposits of colourful shells are not where they ought to be, but I find them. At the foot of a slope before the shore flattens out to the area of gravels and shallow standing water there are two of three sweeps of shelly material containing lots of whole shells. This is where I place my kneeler and look for all the usual suspects which are markers for the possibility of a wentletrap. I find the Calliostoma top shells first then Trivia and just as Nick strolls up I say to him that I am finding all the indicators that I am searching in the right place, sweeping my hand gently over the surface to turn up shells just below the top layer as I do so, and there lying on the surface is a large white wentletrap absolutely on cue. I have written elsewhere on my blog about wentletraps, check out this post of June 2013.