I went out yesterday with the specific purpose of collecting some fine coloured fishing line from the beach for some artwork I am currently doing. I hoped I might also find a fish-shaped lure to incorporate in another picture. As it happened I found lots of line and now have to think about my attitude to rubbish on the beach.
I had originally decided to walk along Hive Beach towards Cogden Beach and perhaps catch a cup of coffee at the café on the way back. I had forgotten it was half term and it is the duty of every family with grandparents who have retired to beautiful Dorset to visit at Autumn half term and it is the duty of said grandparents to take these grandchildren and parents to the seaside. This coincided with every dog owner in Wessex deciding that, now dogs are allowed on Hive Beach for the off season, they should exercise said dogs on the beach. Now this is an excellent thing for the local economy, the National Trust, and the children, parents, grandparents, dogs, dog owners and the Hive Beach Café but it was a bad thing for my desire for a bit of a meditational walk in peace and quiet. The Café, the beach and the car park were heaving and the thought of so many out of control and overexcited dogs and children was enough to cause me to look elsewhere for a little solitude.
I found it at Cogden Beach just a mile further down the coast where, although dogs and children are allowed all year, there were few dogs and no children at all. In fact there were very few people, so I could wander and beachcomb undisturbed. Perhaps the herd of ruby cows and calves in the field you have to pass through acted as a deterent. Mind you, to start with I thought I was going to have an annoyance when a powered hang glider spluttered to get airbourne and a little later flew back down the length of the beach. Fortunately that was the only time I saw it. On another day I might have been pleased to see it and take away the motor I certainly would have been pleased to see it then.
There is always a theme to the flotsam and jetsam on the beach. Today it was blue tubes. I couldn’t believe how many ink tubes from ballpoint pens there were as well as other short blue plastic tubes of various kinds and shades. Sure there were plenty of bits of green string as usual, quite a lot of spider crab carapaces, many bottle (all without messages) and there are still a phenominal number of slipper shels, but blue tubes were most noticable to me.
And, I am pleased to say, there was plenty of discarded fishing line. That is to say I am pleased because I wanted some to use in some tidelines-themed pieces I am working on, but actually I was alarmed by the amount of it. I don’t have an issue with fishermen when their line gets snagged and snaps, but I do get pissed off where it is clear that the angler is just discarding on the beach the trimmed ends or no longer useful tackle.
I wanted a few yards of fine coloured line but came away with a plastic bag full of angling paraphenalia – and by no means did I collect all that I saw! But now I find I need to question my actions. You see, once I picked up something and examined it for a few moments it became my responsibility. It was in my hand so if I threw it away it was me that was littering the beach, wasn’t it? So what about all the stuff I saw but didn’t pick up? Do I now have to take bags with me every time I go and pick up all the rubbish?
I am fascinated by the stuff that anglers use to try and seduce fish on to their hooks. As a beekeeper I can immerse myself in paraphenalia but fishermen must take the prize for bits and bobs! I haven’t been right through the bag to sort out what I want, but I have a feeling that I will be using more than originally planned in my pictures. And I feel that it was a good thing to take a little bit of the human detritus from the beach and place it in the safety of landfil rather than the gut of a sea mammal or whatever.