We spent a beautiful few days in Lyme Regis – the home of the dinosaurs! If you’ve never experienced the delights of Devon and Dorset you really are missing out. The beaches are just lovely – not all fine white sand, though, so if sandcastles and burying yourself up to your neck is your thing, it’s not for you. The shingled and cobbled coastline has a sense of the prehistoric about it, with its rising, crumbling cliffs and grassland overlooking the azure sea. It’s not called the Jurassic Coast for nothing!
Lyme is a small picturesque town nestled at the base of a hill, a haven of shops selling ammonites and purple quartz, with tea shops overflowing with clotted cream. The coloured bunting straddling the narrow street gives a 50’s feel to the place, while the whole area throbs with the reminders of Mary Anning’s historic discovery.
In 1812, at just 12 years old, Mary uncovered the first ichthyosaur. She went on to find one of the largest collections of dinosaur skeletons and fossils in the world. Yet – here’s the sad part – being a young girl from a lower social class, she wasn’t allowed the respect or acknowledgment of the scientific community and her work was often un-credited. Her whole life was a financial struggle. Despite this refusal of the elite male scientists to let her in, they consulted her frequently; an early example of women fighting to smash through the glass ceiling.
It was only a couple of years ago that the Royal Society included her in a list of the ten most influential women in the history of science. Now, if social media had been around in Mary Anning’s day, we can only imagine what she’d be tweeting! News of the unbelievable monsters would have gone viral before anyone even knew what the term viral meant. LinkedIn status updates on the horrific landslides that thrust forth the huge primeval bones, FourSquare check-ins at beach huts, dinosaur photos being shared on Pinterest…
Actually I found some ancient photos in the loft recently – not quite prehistoric, but certainly pre-social media. I took them during my photography course at college over a quarter of century ago. Not the same as 90 million years, but long enough ago that I got excited when one of my old college friends found me last month on Facebook. He’s set up a page for our years at college, so I added my photos there. A couple are of Alan Davies. I was a little bit in love with him as a funny charismatic teenager. (Him, not me.) Not sure he realised though, I was fairly shy back then, secretly snapping him at every opportunity. And he didn’t reply to my message some years ago on Friends Reunited, although Gill did say I sounded a bit like Annie Wilkes in Misery… Annie, Anning…it all ties in I guess.
Photo hunting in the loft isn’t nearly as much fun as fossil hunting on beaches. ‘I know it’s out of fashion… and a trifle uncool. But I can’t help it – I’m a romantic fool.’ Well I do like watching the sun go down – on any beach. And it’s quite nice to be away from the Wi-Fi, even if it is only for a short while.
I’m back on it now though, so you can find me right here, where I usually am: @WeekendWitch.