Days Out: Another Place, Crosby Beach

There’s something about being cooped up over Christmas which makes me and the boys want to bundle up and get some fresh air. We’ve taken to having an annual day trip somewhere between Christmas and New Year, last year it was Attingham Park in Shropshire, this year I was itching to go and have a look at the Antony Gormley figures on Crosby beach, so with wellies on and a bucket and spade in our boot, we headed to the coast for a winter wander.

It was a beautiful day, perfectly clear and crisp, the air was fresh and the sky was that beautiful blue you only really get in the winter. The boy was in love with the almost white sand dunes and the tide was slowly rolling in. 

What I love about Crosby beach is that if you look to the left you can see a hive of industry, Liverpool docks covered in cranes and containers, with huge ships coming in and out every few minutes. But turn your back on that and you’d never know. It’s a good walking beach, you can amble for miles and we did. It’s busy with families and dog walkers, not to mention people like me who had come to see the statues.

Crosby beach
Liverpool Docks

It’s easy to forget that this is a beach next to a busy port, so whilst the sand dunes are beautiful, the beach itself is a bit littered, I collected a bag of the more dangerous bits of litter I spotted, and I did see some used sanitary towels and such like, so maybe wash your hands after you’ve been on the beach. Don’t let that put you off though. It’s still well worth a visit.

Crosby beach

There are 100 of these “Iron Men” on Crosby beach. These cast iron sculptures of Antony Gormley are spaced out across a 2 mile stretch of the beach, each facing out to sea, it is called “Another Place” and the figures are beautiful and eerie at the same time. They’ve been looking out across the Irish Sea since 2007 and they are decaying beautifully over time.

Crosby beach

Crosby beach

Looking at the figures, these eerie  silhouettes littering the shore remind me of the Stevie Smith poem, Not Waving But Drowning. You can see why people mistook them for people in need of rescue.  

Some of the figures set back from the sea are decorated by visitors, some wearing hats, some festive wreaths and one even dressed up as Father Christmas. He was popular, people were queueing up to pose with Santa (he’s the tall one with the beard)!

Crosby Beach

We had a very good walk, we blew away some cobwebs, the boy dug a few holes and I managed to do a bit of beach-combing, I think this would be a great beach to explore regularly if you like beach-combing. I suspect it has great sea-glass potential too.

Crosby Beach

Once we’d walked our wellies off we went to a nearby cafe and art gallery – Waterloo Place, where we warmed up with hot soup and excellent doorstop sandwiches.

I can see us coming back to Crosby Beach time and time again. It’s beautiful, restful and charming, and the Antony Gormley figures are fabulous. A great little day out.

Collecting Sea Glass in the UK

For the past 15 or so years we’ve holidayed along the stormy beaches of North Devon. During that time I’ve enjoyed beach combing and seeing what treasure I could find. A few years ago I found my first piece of sea glass and I was hooked. Since then I’ve searched beaches all over the UK with varying success.

Collecting Sea Glass in the UK

Sea glass is shards of glass, usually from smashed bottles or jars. The glass has been tossed in the sea until the edges are smooth and the glass looks frosted. It can take between 10 and 50 years for the sea to turn a broken bottle into sea glass. So each piece I find is something to treasure. Something special which I know has been years in the making.

We’ve recently returned from a family holiday in Bluestone Wales, which is near the beaches of Tenby and Saundersfoot. I wasn’t really holding out much hope of finding much when I first set foot on the beaches. They were both beautiful soft sandy beaches. I’ve always found beaches with a little more rock and shale to be best for sea glass.

Sea glass

South Beach at Tenby is a stunning, clean beach. Admittedly I was very tired and didn’t beach comb for long, but I managed to find one or two pieces. I must stress that finding sea glass can be an incredibly hard task; most of the time I’ve left a beach either empty handed or with just one or two pieces in my pocket. I was pleased with what I found at Tenby.

The following day we went to Saundersfoot. Again this was a lovely clean sandy beach. There were lots of shells, so it was a very pleasant beach to comb. I walked up the shoreline and after a short while began picking up pieces. Then more pieces, and more, to the point where I had to take my hat off and carry everything I found in it.

In total I found over twenty pieces, in clear glass and green. I was very lucky to have found a couple of pieces with a pattern on them which I think is pretty special.

The problem with sea glass is that because collecting it is becoming increasingly popular there are fewer pieces to be found. Additionally you may just be picking up glass that’s been in the sea for a bit and not glass which has been formed and rubbed into true sea glass. I admit some of my pieces are more sea glass like than others, but I will be adding all of these to my collection.

I have a rule about collecting sea glass. If I find some which is still sharp then it goes in the bin. It is too new and I don’t want anyone cutting themselves on it. If its edges are rounding but it’s not yet mature enough for me, then I’ll pop it back in the sea for another collector on another day.

Collecting sea glass is a real labour of love. It gives me an excuse to hit the beach in all weathers. To wrap up against the winds and stalk the shore for treasure, or to swan about in a sun hat for a while. I’ve got a jar I put my sea glass in which I look at daily and remember the family holidays we’ve been on and fun we’ve had. I often wonder what the story is behind each little piece of frosted glass in my collection. My sea glass collection isn’t valuable, but it has value to me. It is my treasure.

Which beaches do you think are best for collecting Sea Glass in the UK?

Collecting Sea Glass in the UK