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Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Just the way you are

Yesterday I popped into London, the center of the universe, inhabited by the Gods of all things historic, materialistic, fast and furious. I had plans to meet old friends- two who I hadn't seen or spoken to in 16 years and another who I had last clasped eyes on 21 years ago (and who I have known since we were both four years old). Wow! None of us had seen the time fly or our feelings change for one another. We reconnected as if the elapsed time had been so fleeting we hadn't realised we were older and very much greyer, the children were all grown up and the usual dramas of life had never even happened. None of was particularly interested in material accomplishments to brag about but all of us fused with the heart of the person sitting opposite after a long, tender embrace. I had the best time of my life to love, feel loved and thought of so fondly by old friends who had not disappeared forever into a pea soup fog of time. There can be nothing more wonderful in life. In fact there isn't.

My friend from primary school remarked that when she looked back at her life she could see how fortunate she had been. We all were. We just didn't know it at the time.

Photo copyright SvD.

Monday, 30 October 2017

Sexual harassment and the sheer hypocrisy of it all

I've written before about being sexually harassed. I can recall several separate incidents where men behaved inappropriately towards me. Rampant inappropriate behaviour was all the rage in my salad days where the flush of youth, a heady combination of throbbing hormones and plump lips sends men sniffing around hoping to strike lucky. I was able to extricate myself from unwanted embraces and tongues down my throat and on each occasion the men reluctantly albeit gracefully backed off. One of my bosses made it plain that if I didn't sleep with him I would not get promoted. I resigned and went off to explore life and eventually found a new job. When I look back on all these experiences all I can think of is poor them. Men who consider women fair game and use sex as a way to barter a promotion or a starring role in a film are pretty low in the food chain but forgive me, the women who accept that they need to remove their knickers in order to get ahead are no better.

The media has suddenly gone stark raving mad since Harvey Weinstein was accused of being a monster. The media thrives on a feeding frenzy and poor old Harvey however grotesque he may be, must surely be suicidal having seen his stellar career in tatters. Don't be fooled, Hollywood has always been a cesspit of vipers and debauchery. And if you think that the stars of days gone by did not indulge in the occasional leg over in order to advance their careers, you'd be wrong. I know quite a few people in the movie business and the combination of huge money, fame, notoriety and an easy life are worth paying a high price for and the way to survive is to convince oneself that it is only sex. Not love, not making love, just sex. And let's face it, sex is pretty forgettable unless there's a mental connection. The expression 'sleeping one's way to the top' didn't originate last month when Harvey Weinstein was exposed as a rogue. Sex as a means to an end has been going on since time immemorial. The history of civilisation if filled to overflowing with adultery, for example- Cleopatra was Caesar's mistress in a strategic move to obtain power, she then aligned herself to Mark Anthony but was LOVE involved? Prince Charles married his mistress who interestingly has never had a day job. Power, money and motivation are irresistible aphrodisiacs. A very crude joke goes like this: for every 0 in a man's bank account, add an extra inch to his d...k. Harvey Weinstein made a lot of great films and advanced a lot of careers. Oh, the irony as they turn against him!

So SPARE ME the complete and utter hypocrisy of everyone running for the hills screaming molestation, inappropriate behaviour and sexual bloody harassment. Rape is wrong but a man placing his hand on your ass is hardly going to be a seminal moment in your life. Really? Is an unwanted kiss going to send one into a spiral of despair and ruin one's life? Is a man saying that he'd like to shag you so truly terrible that it is worse than a kid having their legs blown off by a landmine or the fact that one quarter of all children in the UK live in poverty? Did that actress who claims harassment when it was consensual sex, which just happened to catapult her into the Hollywood stratosphere, is she just remorseful, bitter or jumping on the bandwagon in order to be seen?

I blame the left who are a rabid bunch of holier-than-thou hypocrites, plotting over their soy lattes who needs to be destroyed so they can advance their agendas. Where are we heading in this? Now we learn Westminster is full of gropers all speaking in double-entendres. Welcome to politics where every politician lies once they open their mouth. They can't help themselves. Didn't Boris have a carry on but his wife stayed with him? Now I'm told Theresa May must do more to top all this lusting- is she to go around slapping errant parliamentarians with a ruler and shouting 'Naughty!!!!'?

The latest claim (and they're never going to stop) this morning involves Kevin Spacey accused of molesting someone.  Mr Spacey promptly (and strategically) claimed not to recall the incident. He took the opportunity to announce the bleeding obvious about his sexuality which has been known in inner circles forever. Hence my point exactly: everyone has always known that the casting couch is a probable gynaecological examination and those who were hungry enough accepted the rules of the game and were prepared to sell their souls. The current feeding frenzy is pretty despicable considering what a mess the world finds itself in. Personally I'm more concerned about ISIS or that nutter in North Korea than being groped by a bloke. But then again there is far more in life that interests me and every incident of sexual harassment or inappropriate behaviour I have ever encountered in my life didn't define me and was utterly forgettable (because I have better things to think about).

The current climate of far right political correctness is a dangerous trend towards complete intolerance; what therefore is the difference, you tell me, between tolerance and intolerance? Just someone telling you what to think. It's worth remembering that much about life is an illusion. Like the photo below.

Photo copyright S. van Dalen

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Banish The Blues By Living In The Present

I used to be unhappy until I understood how to live in the present moment. Now don't get me wrong, I'm not talking about being spontaneous to the point of not thinking about the effects of my actions, I'm describing a more philosophical approach to living in the now.

What is the now? Perhaps I should begin by explaining that our perception of reality is in fact the culmination of the past and an anticipation of the future. For example, we have opinions or behave in a certain manner based on our upbringing or past experiences. We regard the future as a phase in our lives when we hope to able to enjoy retirement because we would have saved enough to do so, etc... In the middle between past and future lies the present which is very much affected by both. If we consider that everything we do or say will have some bearing on our future, we would view the present as the only time in our lives which matters. So for example, if we were faced with an opportunity to be happy, we should take it because a) that opportunity may not come again and b) it will shape our future.

I recently went on a journey which was intended to reminisce and rediscover the past. I could not have been more surprised to discover how much the past is a foreign country. Everywhere I searched for the cosy warmth of nostalgia, I discovered that nothing had remained the same. The only constant was how I felt about a past lover. It was a profound time for me.  Not to reminisce but to discover the present moment, a feeling of overwhelming happiness that can't be bought or sought.

I've written in the past about one's disposition and the fact that despite travelling the world or metamorphosing several times over in our lives into different professions etc..., what never changes is who we are. I learned on my journey that I was the same person I had always been and after years of bad luck and sadness, I had lost none of the gentle softness which I had been forced to suffocate with an overdose of courage. I was moved to learn that in spite of everything which had occurred I was still the same.

What a relief to finally be able to empty my heart, overflowing for years with tears of sadness! What joy to be able to flee from the ghouls of dysfunction! Discovering the present moment as all there is, has been the beacon of light which brought me back from being lost in a desolate sea. I know that I am not alone and many will identify with the sense of living half a life, not necessarily full of regret but devoid of fulfilment and real happiness. Yes, there is fulfilment in accomplishing the mundane but we all think at some stage in our lives and as we look back, how things could have been so different. I would bet that those who never question anything in their lives are ruthless egoists who have no desire to understand the human psyche.

The human condition, in my view, is a riddle of what could have been, what should have been and what is. How once we thought we would learn to soar but instead ended up flapping about in a deep blue sea and resigned ourselves to mediocrity and disappointment. Perhaps for this reason the aestheticians revered beauty which I would argue, is the symbolic antithesis of failure. In our appreciation of beauty we escape pain, which in turn banishes sadness or fear, albeit temporarily. So too is unhappiness a type of failure because we think we will never find our way to be happy. Ironically, in our search for happiness we forget how to be happy and worse yet, how to be happy RIGHT NOW.

One could of course argue that as age accelerates, it is better to grab hold of the present because that could be all there is. Yes and no. Today is today and tomorrow will still be tomorrow. Understanding human complexity and accepting that in all our actions the self is in charge hence Steve Jobs' famous line about not living someone else's life. The self however does not have to be about ego. To love selflessly for example, is the purest, most rewarding and most virtuous type of love.

Living in the present demands more reflection and self-control (oh, the irony) than one would assume. It's not about grabbing what you can or wildly plunging into the unknown. The present is the balancing act while standing on the precipice. As the strong wind approaches to blow us off, we are able to fend it off by seeing the truth of who we are. And in that moment, we experience a blissful euphoria, otherwise known as happiness.


Photo copyright SvD.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Some love affairs never end

Je t'aime

Photo copyright SvD.

Endless possibilities

I feel sorry for those who live in cities, cooped up in apartments without a view or a vista that propels the soul into a realm far beyond the ordinary. This evening sky symbolises all that it happening in my life: change, transience, new beginnings, hope. I would often open a book randomly and more often than not, would fall upon a page where exactly what was happening in my life was mirrored on the page. Nature is the book of life and here it is in all its glory. Guess what's happening to me.

Evening walk with the hounds. Photo copyright SvD.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Bordeaux, je t'aime

The one constant in my life is my love of France. I am lucky to live very near to France and can hop over quite easily. And so once again I ventured off solo with one suitcase and one piece of hand luggage in case my suitcase got lost. I normally drive but this time decided to fly.

I had spent many happy years as a student at university in Bordeaux. This time I was going to tour vineyards and take a couple of wine courses. And I should add, meet old friends who I was at university with thirty + years ago.

Suffice it to say that my trip was the best holiday of my life and one which I could probably write a book about. We're older but we're the same and how we feel will never change- that was the lesson we learned seeing each other after thirty years.

I walked the entire length and breadth of the center of Bordeaux- 65 kilometres in five days. Have comfortable shoes and the world is truly one's oyster. As a single woman, walking holidays in safe places are the most important part of my holiday and I can say that I never felt threatened in Bordeaux. I walked everywhere by myself and gladly have lived to tell the tale. Bordeaux is breathtakingly beautiful, easy to navigate on foot and very close to the best vineyards in the world.

On one of my wine courses in St Emilion I met a French Canadian who told me he was retracing the steps of his youth before he died. That is the conundrum of what it is to be human, my dear friend.

 Learning to distinguish between Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot.

Some of the 750,000 bottles in the underground cellars of CHATEAU DE LA RIVIERE.

CHATEAU DE LA RIVIERE.
Moi with a few bottles for lunch. CHATEAU DE PORTETS.

PLACE DE LA BOURSE, BORDEAUX.

MOTHER MARY IN FRONSAC.
 
Some of the 22 kms of underground cellars at CHATEAU DE LA RIVIERE.

All photos copyright SvD.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Why The Past Is A Foreign Country

I recently returned to Bordeaux where I had spent many happy years, the best of my life, as a student. I graduated in 1987 and this year is 30 years exactly since I left university. I combined my desire to retrace my steps with winetasting tours to St Emilion and Medoc vineyards and revisiting old friends.
Photo copyright SvD.

I used to love spending the day in St. Emilion wandering around the cobbled streets of this ancient village some parts of which date to 767 AD. Thirty years ago I could walk through the whole village and maybe see a dozen people. Today the village receives 1.5 million tourists annually.
St. Emilion. Photo copyright SvD.

Bordeaux is now the second most visited town in France after Paris.
Ripening  grapes, St. Emilion. Photo copyright SvD.

I recognised nothing during my trip of how things used to be. In fact, I felt acutely aware of how I had aged and my memories were balancing off a precipice soon to be shunted into oblivion. The world has changed and seems intent on being bigger, more dynamic, more relevant and in my view, more false. There was a time where the quiet stillness of my soul could be found munching 'macarons' and sitting with my feet in the pools of spring water of the ancient communal stone laundry in St. Emilion which this time 'round, I couldn't find.

How the world has changed! I learned on this vist to retrace my steps that we can't recreate the journey we had to embark on in order to learn and to be what we needed to become.

One of these bottles is the year I was born. Photo copyright SvD.

Friday, 15 September 2017

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Mushroom season

If I was a vegetarian, I would be spending hours every day foraging for mushrooms. The best mushrooms appear in late September as the weather just begins to turn cold. This year we have lost a month as everything is in advance: sloes are already ripe as are blackberries and apples- that usually happens in October. I came upon these field mushrooms this weekend in the woods- very edible and delicious friend in butter with garlic, salt and parsley. When I find mushrooms, it means the land is still naturally fertile and the delicate balance of nature has not yet been tipped over the edge. Note the circular formation of how mushrooms grow.


Photos copyright SvD.

Making do

I am the queen of making do, of carrying on, of the stiff upper lip, of being Ms Sensible in a crisis (only because I have no choice) as always. In the woods I found this bird feeder that looks a lot like me and it made me smile.


Photo copyright SvD.

How did the slow caterpillar cross the road unscathed?

On my walk yesterday along a winding country road where cars whistled past at furious speed and the odd cyclist in bright speedos would appear suddenly beside me and shout 'Hullo!'. I love this bit of road, it stretches for around ten miles and although the drivers take advantage of the lack of traffic and pretend they're Lewis Hamilton, I nonetheless manage to gather my thoughts and enjoy the scenery of endless fields, huge skies and even something much smaller.

Mr Caterpillar caught my eye as he crossed the road very, very slowly. He didn't seemed concerned that at any minute he could be fossilised into the asphalt but continued as if he had all the time in the world. My heart started beating rapidly with the anxiety of having to watch an imminent murder most foul. I didn't dare pick up the caterpillar knowing from experience that his spikes would hurt like hell. A car approached at break neck speed but luckily on the other side of the road. Mr Caterpillar had been lucky but I knew his luck wouldn't last. A cyclist appeared out of nowhere as usual and zoomed past missing Mr C by millimeters. Deciding I had to do something, I stood in the middle of the road, not exactly planning to commit suicide but to force cars and cyclists to slow down just so Mr C would make it safely to the other side. I counted to 78 and.....finally! Mr C arrived at the end of his voyage all the while having been completely oblivious to my self-induced angst for his well being. Isn't life funny like that? Mr C wasn't lucky. He was just crossing the road.

Photo copyright SvD.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

On my walk today

I walked six miles today just strolling around and here's what I saw:

In a church. Cryptic praise?


Along the canals.


And my favourite time of the day.

Photos copyright SvD.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Shots of Summer Part 2

 Looking southwards against a sober sky...
 Cobnuts - a tasty snack raw or roasted (if you have any left after gorging yourself).
 Milk Thistle- used as a natural remedy in these parts for hundreds of years to treat liver congestion.
Ripe elderberries- when they ripen it signifies the end of summer. We're in August but nature says summer is over already!
Ripening damsons - the best jam ever is made from these wild tart plums. Not very digestible raw but like the quince they take on a whole new dimension once cooked.

All photos taken on my walk today.

Photos copyright SvD.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

How to Stop A River of Tears

In my 20s I was hopeful, in my 30s accommodating, in my 40s philosophical, in my 50s too wise for my own good but never too old to change. There is an old joke about what has three legs at dusk. Answer: an old man requiring a stick to walk with. In the process of aging it is not just the physical body that needs a crutch. We are now getting used to waking up to bad news- terrorist attacks, mosque attacks, deadly fires. Rather than becoming inured to bad things the opposite is happening: bad news makes us less reliant on the metaphorical crutch, somehow more resilient and yes, more emotional- suddenly we realise that we had better make the most of life on our terms as there is a very real possibility it could be curtains sooner rather than later.

When my father died I realised I was living half a life and needed to change it. The sight of my father lying in a coffin was a seminal moment. Whatever crutch I was relying on was suddenly whipped away and I felt myself instantly determined to change the way things were. The same must surely apply to the terrible news that greets us almost daily. The first question we must ask ourselves is what can we do? The answer is painfully simple. I'll explain why.

As I walked the hounds this morning, I reflected as I always do particularly on my mother with whom I had a most awful relationship. It suddenly dawned on me that my late mother's unkindness and the fact that she never said anything good about anyone was because she couldn't stop herself. In other words, when we do bad things and say bad things, we have to keep doing them. Bad engenders bad. Just like the evil we are faced with in the world today. As simplistic as it may sound, the solution starts with us.

Just for one moment, perhaps less than thirty seconds of your time is all it will take to change the world. Here's what you can do in thirty seconds: reflect on the last unkind/bad thing you said or did. Next, resolve to change your behaviour and do and say only good things from now on. I am certainly guilty of the opposite on occasion- just this morning I was cursing the truck driver who swerved ahead of me in the fast lane in order to overtake another truck. I think I used every expletive in the dictionary. But my behaviour was more about my state of mind and the anxiety which sometimes overwhelms me. In that respect I am like everyone else but my expletive-laden rant didn't actually change the situation.

How we cope in adversity takes courage. Courage to recognise our weaknesses and to realise we need to change the way things are, including the way we react. We can alter our behaviour but we can't stop bad things from happening. Doing good and saying good is the boomerang which will come back to greatly enrich your life.

Photo copyright SvD.

Monday, 3 July 2017

Down at the farm...

Sheep have been shorn of their Winter coats and are spending their days and nights outdoors munching on grass and a special feed the farmer delivers early in the morning. These are ewes which will give birth again in the Spring. Sheep are not that interesting and not half as curious as cows. Sheep are very skittish (like pigeons) and never want to say hello. Cows on the other hand would like to spend all day chatting to you:

The calves are one year old and will soon be 'osso bucco'. Here they are meeting my darling doggie. Some calves will join the dairy herd as well.

I call them babies and give them pats as I walk past but they are much bigger than me! Thankfully their teeth are quite flat and not very sharp!

Photo copyright SvD.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

The Direction of My Heart

I have written before about the different types of love, romantic, maternal, etc. There is another kind of love- silent and fateful, an obligation to yield because it makes us who we are. A person can be the direction of our heart. A navigator on our journey through life. I have been fortunate in my tumultuous existence to meet random strangers who were effectively in charge of the direction of my broken, damaged heart.

Throughout my life I have met people literally on the street with whom I have gone on to forge close friendships and connections which had a strength of purpose in that precise moment in my life. When I was a student, I foolishly headed for Bordeaux on a whim without any back up plan or knowledge of what I was going to do. I met someone at the airport who offered me a place to stay. That person taught me about what I didn't want- to take drugs and distance myself from the real world. I then moved into an unfurnished apartment and received a knock on the door that same day from a kindly lady who offered me her spare furniture. That lady would become my defacto grandmother- someone who utterly adored me and I her. My friendship with this angelic woman occurred just as my family was falling apart- my brother had caused my parents terrible heartbreak and the repercussions within our family felt like being on a rollercoaster where you wanted to scream but knew all too well that no one would hear. I had to learn how to deal with the unhappiness in my family and in the process, heal my shattered soul. If I hadn't had the affection of a little old lady who knocked on my door out of kindness, I don't think I would have managed to stay sane.

A couple of years ago the same thing happened in reverse- I was the stranger who helped someone in distress. A lady visiting her ill mother in a nursing home stopped me one day on the street and needed to talk. Again the connection was instant and over the course of several weeks it became apparent that I had something which could help her overcome her anxiety. Attention, interest, a demeanor that made her feel that I was wiser than perhaps I actually am.

Lovers engage the romantic desire we crave- the hope of being loved and cherished.  But as people, we are infinitely more powerful than we believe. Not because we are better but because we offer a type of sustenance to weary souls. We are all frazzled from the daily grind of living and sometimes it can feel that there is no light at the end of the tunnel and that the future is bleak. To quote my best friend, at our age all we can do is reminisce because there really is nothing to look forward to. She's right and wrong. If we manage to get to our age and still be capable of showing empathy and kindness to others we have won the stakes in the lottery of life. Once we understand how much we can mean to others by showing them attention and thoughtfulness towards their predicament, then we are fulfilling our prophecy as human beings. If collectively whole continents could harness such a force it would be for the good of all where no one would feel lonely, isolated and tormented by the things they cannot change. Each of us is a ray of light in a world becoming shrouded in darkness.

Someone once said to me that I make others happy. It took me a while to understand that there is a symbiosis between people which makes us relevant to each other. No matter how down or out we may feel or fearful of the future, it is worth remembering that someone else is having a worse time. We can't change the world but we can make small steps which in turn will have far-reaching consequences. So open yourself to the possibility that someone will be sent to help when your world is falling apart. And be that person for somebody else. The person who could change the direction of a heart.

Photo copyright SvD.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

My suppers this week!

These are the dishes that I cooked and relished in the last week. They say that if you love to eat you love to cook!

Roast Chicken. Home from work at 6.05pm. Chicken in the oven at 6.20pm, on the table at 8.15pm (having rested for twenty minutes).

Served with:


Petits Pois à la Parisienne. Cooked this while chicken was roasting.



Pan- Fried Tuna Steak with Fennel Seeds, served with Sauerkraut.


Fried Rice served with leftover Roast Lamb.


Omelette aux Fines Herbes with Home-Made Chips.




Broccoli Tempura- I could literally eat this all day every day. Easiest thing to make if the oil is just the right temperature. I ate a whole head of broccoli like this one evening.

Anyone can cook- please try! You'll be saving your sanity, health and the planet at the same time.

All photos copyright SvD.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

The season of abundance

Summer fruits are in plentiful supply at the moment and the easiest dessert which everyone loves is sliced fruits soaked in a bit of freshly squeezed orange or lemon juice (or whatever booze is lying around, rum or cointreau, for example) and served with sweetened double cream. Choose fruits which are just bordering on overipeness- they are the sweetest. Refrigerate the salad before serving. On scorching days like today this is a perfect light and refreshing dessert.

The dollop of cream in my photo resembles a sheep's head for some strange reason....

Photo copyright SvD.

A Real Tree

Whenever I come upon a tree which has not in it its entire long life ever been lopped or pollarded or tormented by human hands, my heart skips. On my 5 mile walk today:

Photo copyright SvD.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Cows in a row

This morning on my dog walk making way for one hundred dairy cows freshly milked and let out to pasture:

Photo copyright SvD.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

How I found a 190million year old fossil on Charmouth Beach

I discovered Charmouth Beach quite by accident- I had gone to church one Sunday while staying in Sidmouth on holiday. The couple who were sitting next to me in church and to whom I had not even spoken, invited me to coffee straight after mass. As it turned out, they had lived in Sidmouth all of their lives- they were in their 60s. I asked about fossil hunting and they suggested Charmouth Beach and so I headed off the next morning armed with a plastic bag to collect my finds and a sturdy pair of shoes.

I arrived at the beach in the pelting rain- oh, the joys of the British summer! I asked a passing local if I should turn left or right on the beach for the best finds. She said right which I did picking my way along the beach which is essentially a quarry of medium to large rocks forced out of their dormancy from the overhanging cliffs by rain. Heavy downpours soak into the cliff making it fall apart literally and as the cliff disintegrates, the fossils are loosened from their resting places. I was lucky- we had experienced a terrific storm the night before replete with thunder and lightning. I hoped I was going to get lucky.

Indeed I was one of the first few hunters on the beach which stretched for two miles or so before me. I rubbed my hands with glee. Off I went bent over peering earnestly at my feet. I quickly learned not to touch the crumbling cliff face as the disintegrating rock is tar-like and sticks to your hands like glue. Gloves would be the order of the day but I had none. Instead I would have to find fossils amongst the rocks on the beach. I kept going. One of the attributes you acquire living on your own is amazing concentration. Used to my own company I can literally go for hours on end on a single task like painting or writing. So bending over relentlessly scouring the rocks for something out of place was easy.

And here's what else I did- I meditated. I emptied my head of the figurative rocks in my brain and blocked out the ancillary noise- the sound of people's voices, even the crashing of the waves a few feet from me. I got to the point where there was nothing in my head at all just a silence punctuated by a sensation that I should stop and look near my feet and not move. That's what I did. The sensation grew stronger. I did not veer even one inch away from where I was standing but concentrated all my energy into examining the rocks as intently as possible. Suddenly I felt that I should bend down even closer which I did and that again, I should not move. I did what I was being propelled to do. And there it was. I picked it up not knowing what it was but sensing it was incredible.

There was a further strong feeling that I should stop searching as to want more than one prize would be greedy. I turned around and  retraced my footsteps away from beach.

By now in need of some sustenance I headed off to the nearby restaurant where a surplus of customers meant that we had to share tables. As I sat down I examined my finds. The gentleman at the same table who was in an amorous clinch with his girlfriend looked up. 'Very impressive,' he smiled, at the fossil not me, unfortunately. Turns out he was a palaeontologist on holiday with his new girlfriend and he knew just about everything on fossils and dinosaurs. He confirmed I had struck very, very lucky indeed for a complete novice with no knowledge or experience.

Later on the local museum re-iterated the same thing: my ammonite (an ancient type of squid) was rare and wonderful.

The sensation of our temporary passage on this earth is made all the more profound while standing in the rain holding a 190 million year old fossil.

So there you have it: when we abandon our will sometimes great things want to find us. Neither is this the first time where coincidence after coincidence has guided me towards something.

If I could, I would spend the rest of my life down on Charmouth Beach which has to be one of the best experiences ever of my life.



My ammonite. Photos copyright SvD.

If you'd like to know more about ammonites, this link has all the info: http://www.discoveringfossils.co.uk/ammonites.htm