If you were to ask a Brit about what seaside traditions they remembered most fondly from childhood, I can guarantee the answers would revolve around the following:
Blue-and-white or red-and-white stripped deck chairs
A plastic bucket and spade
99 flake (and other such ice cream delights)
Punch and Judy
and Fish and chips (preferably out of a newspaper)
If you were really lucky, the sun might have peaked out from behind the clouds for a few optimistic minutes. Bliss.
A lot of these precious memories are lost on my fellow Canadians, especially those in Southern Ontario. The nearest salt water beach is approximately 10 hours away by car, so they’re not to blame. Besides, it’s a cultural thing; I missed out on the many childhood camping trips that my friends are nostalgic about, so I guess we’re even.
But back to the beautiful British beaches.
If you’ve ever visited Lyme Regis, then you may have another item to add to the seaside tradition list: searching for fossils.
Move over, Jurassic World. It’s all about the coast.
Along Dorset’s world famous Jurassic Coast (and yes, that’s its real name) searching for fossils might be an overstatement. They’re everywhere. In some cases, it’s as easy as stoop and scoop.
Here’s an example: I found this 200 million year old fossil one time. Pretty neat, huh?
Add these seaside traditions together, alongside quaint locally run shops and you’ve got yourself some fond memories. Oh, and did I mention that the streetlights are shaped like ammonites? How cute!
If you’re to pick up a book on fossils or dinosaurs, chances are that Lyme Regis is mentioned. It is a World Heritage Site, after all. Outside the sphere of paleo-addicts, however, I’m surprised by how few people have visited or even heard of this little gem. Most react with disbelief when I describe just how easy it is to find your own relics of the past along the sandy shores.
As a Brit looking for a long weekend away – look no further.
As a visitor wishing to experience the British seaside culture and bag an impressive souvenir – look no further.
So don your flip-flops, grab your 99 and make Dr. Alan Grant proud.