Day Trip to Lyme Regis on the Devon-Dorset Border

There are plenty of shops along High Street in Lyme Regis on the Jurassic Coast. Most cater to the many tourists coming to this seaside town. At this time of year, in early October, it was mostly elderly people. The weather was brilliant, and we even got to sunbathe at the shore for half an hour before we left the next day.

We had the option of taking a three-hour tour, but having only one afternoon in this town (we got there around noon from Exeter), we decided to walk around at our own pace.

There are a few fossil shops, a fossil museum, fossil tours, and even the lanterns are fossil-shaped.

On my former visits England, I used to find coins on the streets and sidewalks. Not anymore. Either it is because the streets are being swept all the time (they looked very clean), or because Brexit is near. Instead of coins, I saw many bird feathers. 🙂

We walked a good mile out to the spot where one can find fossils. We didn’t find any, but instead I found much sea glass! A fossil collector explained how it got there – land erosion caused a landslide, and brought down a landfill… I brought it with me nevertheless. It had been in the sea for many years, polished by the sand and water, so it had done its job.

Jurassic Coast Lyme Regis

This is a beautiful place to vacation, and I could easily spend a week here. There are several cafés and benches by the shore. Most of them have an inscription dedicated to a loved one.

We watched the elderly get off the bus. They had to step carefully, some gave a helping hand. My husband and I looked at each other, and we didn’t have to say it out loud. This could be us ten years from now.

We saw no one with an iPhone, nor iPad (I used mine to take pictures and was eyed curiously). We were some of the younger tourists there.

Ocean glass

Ocean glass, also known as sea glass or mermaids’ tears, can be found on most beaches. These are glass shards, which sharp edges got smoothed over the years by getting tumbled in water and sand. Their once shiny glass surface becomes frosted-looking after so many years.

For the past six or seven years I have brought back mermaids’ tears from our annual holiday vacations in places such as Virginia/USA, Croatia, Japan, Faroe Islands, Crete, the Azores, and the most recent one, Sicily.

I have always put them in a glass jar, and had one of my children label it (location and date). Over the years, I have come to learn a bit more about these pretty pebbles. As I usually add a couple of stones, snails, shells, etc. to the jar, each jar has taken on its own life in color, smell, and drinking culture.

By far, the Crete jar is smelling the strongest. One dip with the nose and your senses transport you to where the fishing boots are coming in.

The Faroe Islands jar contains mostly brown mermaids’ tears, which reflects their tendency to drink more beer from brown bottles in the Northern European countries.

The most beautiful mermaids’ tears, and best find so far,  are from the Sicilian island of Favignana. This was truly mermaids’ tears heaven as there were so many everywhere and it became clear that beach-combing was not a popular activity on this windy island (snorkeling is, I believe).

A good mermaids’ tear takes between 15 and 60 years of being tumbled around in the ocean. Some beaches might offer mostly premature ones (five-year old glass shards), while others, such as the beaches of  Favignana  offered many overly weathered, hence the most beautiful sea glass. Favignana also offered more white ones than other locations.

Ocean glass floating in the sky

Another thing I learned – while you ask your son to hold up the glass, make sure he does not have an itchy nose. A few tumbled over the fourth floor balcony, a few shattered on the floor. These mermaids’ tears still break like regular glass.

Besides putting them in a jar, you could also try your hands at making jewelry. For a few ideas, visit these websites:

Tears from the Deep and West Coast Sea Glass

The term mermaids’ tears itself is often also referred to in a negative way –  plastic polluting the oceans.

Springtime in Sicily

We have only returned from our trip yesterday afternoon. Mostly everything is unpacked, pictures have been uploaded, bills have been sorted, and memories stored away.

Here are a few  more pictures taken in Trapani, Sicily.

Easter Sunday procession through Trapani

Six men upfront and six men in the back carried this float from one point to the next. In between, little strips of white and yellow paper came falling from the sky (well, from a balcony somewhere). Many people gathered at a market place where a high catholic figure, in a red robe, spoke down to the people from yet another balcony.

Trapani in the morning hours

The houses are tall and the roads so narrow. These tall buildings serve as a windshield and temperature buffer. There seems to be a constant wind, which must be rather nice in the summer time. Except during the days of the African wind Scirocco, which can paralyze life up to 20 days each year.

Sicilian coastline

The water is so clear and clean looking. On our walks, we only saw very low rocks – no cliffs at all – around the coastline. Some of these rocks show fossils in the shape of shells, snails. etc.

Street with a view

Brownish buildings, black rocks in the water, and the blue sea, all mingled in sunshine in April.

Amid rocks and mermaids’ tears, there was the catch of the morning…

I was beach combing for mermaids’ tears, and found myself in mermaids’ tears heaven. There were so many washed up on the shore. Not just regular broken glass shards, but the ones who had been in the water for a long time, polished smoothly by sand and water (a good quality mermaids’ tear takes 15 – 60 years of natural polish). It took me a minute to realize I was picking them out of a long strip of fish heads washed ashore.

There is much more to discover in Sicily. We only had three days there, but it was enough to realize that there is so much more to do and see.

I was able to use my Italian skills here and there, but you could also get by with only using English with the younger generation.

Nihon – tadaima: 第 9 ć—Ą

April 15, 2008

Iwaya Beach, seeing former neighbors for the last time, a beautiful Japanese girl and a Kuru-kuru sushi restaurant

In the morning we went to Iwaya Beach located at the northern shore of the island of Kyushu. It was a very short drive of about five minutes from our friend’s house. We collected some shells and, of course, I went looking for mermaids’ tears and got lucky as well.

Thomas at the beach

Thomas at Iwaya Beach

Special flower

Rare flowers called hamayuu

But there was also a lot of trash as well – too bad.

Speaking of trash – Japan is becoming more and more conscious about pollution. This even applies to discarded cigarette butts with the following poster explaining why NOT to throw them indiscriminately.

cigarette butts

Environmental sign

That morning I asked my brother Thomas to take a few pictures of Sakura Fujita, my friends’ daughter. The older daughter, Momoko, had already left the house that morning to take the train back to Fukuoka to attend university. (Sorry, Momoko, I would have liked to get some photos of you, too!!)

Anyway, both the photographer and the model seemed to enjoy their shooting session so much that a lot of photos were taken.




In the afternoon we went back to my former neighborhood once more to say our final good-byes. Below are some photos taken with my local friends,

Nakasan Itaisan Toshimasan

Nakasan Itaisan Toshimasan

In the early evening we went to a Kuru-kuru sushi restaurant and then spent the rest of the night at home.

Mermaids’ Tears

For the past four years, we – a family of four, have been collecting Mermaid’s Tears from various beaches, e.g. Virginia beach/U.S.A, Croatia, Baltic Sea, during our annual summer holidays.

It all started in 2003 while we were on Virginia beach, where I read a nice little story in which Mermaid’s Tears were mentioned. Up until that time I had never thought of glass shards, washed up on the beach, as an object of beauty.

But they are – the way they travelled starting with people polluting the ocean and the beach by dumping trash into the water or just leaving the party remnants behind.

Then nature run its course by using wind, water and sand to do its part in refining the trash: it turns the shards into the beautiful gems we then find washed up on the shore. The average time it takes for an angular glass shard to reach its final smooth stage takes between 15 and 60 years (depending on the level of erosion).

Looking for Mermaids Tears keeps our family busy by scouting for good spots and digging in the sand. My children like to look for them while I may sit lazily in a beachside café and they run up to show their little treasures. More often though I go hunting with them.

We have found the most beautiful pieces and they come in all kinds of shapes, sizes, and colors with green, light-blue, and white being the more prominent colors.

At home we put them in a glass jar and label it with the date and location. You may also add a couple of stones or shells for variety. It is very decorative, a nice souvenir, and free. And you help the environment by keeping the beach a bit cleaner.

But there are other reports calling any kind of beach trash Mermaids’ Tears. How could you label dented water bottles Mermaids’ Tears? This term only applies to glass shards and nothing else. After all, glass is made from sand.

Poisoning the world’s seas with other waste is a different story.

Sturdy and durable plastic does not bio-degrade, it only breaks down physically, and so persists in the environment for possibly hundreds of years.

To read more on this BBC report click here

Mermaids’ Tears

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