Sunday, 18 April 2010

Why you should never allow children to play in quarries

Today is the walk-and-talk with our local geology group. Here they are.

Let me say right now they are fabulous people. I adore them for their kindness and generosity. They allow themselves to be seen near us, even though we are an ignorant sprawling bunch of amateur no hopers who have trouble sorting our basalt from our bison.

Because some of these walk-and-talk people are professional geologists. Really. They actually do this rockwatching for a living. They are exactly the type of knowledgeable people I like to shove Squirrel towards and have them list to her the chemical composition of brecciated Upper Lias clay.

Squirrel is possibly my only scientific hope. She is the one who actually enjoys learning the times table. Tiger, on the other hand, goes berserk and smashes up the house in anguish at the sight of 4x7, so she takes after me. Shark simply shrugs her shoulders in a SeeifIcare? gesture, unless you rephrase it and switch the numbers for conger eels and seabed caverns, in which case she can give you the answer no problem. But Squirrel is interested in numbers and chemicals and planets and rocks, so on those daydream disconnected days, she could be lying on that hammock working out the mathematics of black holes. Who knows?

So today, a lot for Squirrel, but for all of us too, we walk-and-talk round Stowe Gardens with the lovely, wonderful and kind geologists. We do a lot of this.

And a lot of this.

Quite a bit of this.

And plenty of that.

Then we walk further, to the local disused quarry.

Now the moment we arrive here, I realise this is why you should never allow children to play in quarries. Why not? Because you cannot get the beggars out. What is here? Why, just all the very best stuff you can ever imagine! Mud! Sand! Puddles! Fossils! Pits! More sand! Sliding slopes! Danger! More danger! Rocks! More rocks!

At this point I collect some 150 photos of kids fooling around in mud and clay and climbing up and sliding down sand and gravel heaps, because I think this would be a hoot to show the staff at A&E.

But I also know this is how geologists are made, so if my ambitions for Squirrel include her rockwatching in far flung parts of the world, I'd better let her throw herself down a cliff face now, while her body is still bendy. And if I have to carry the wounded Squirrel back to the car then I can always say I was led to it by that weird deity we keep round here: education.

After the exhaustion of the quarry fun, and some slight coercion about going home before the clocks change again, we set off in the direction of the car. But I see that she is limping. I would like to think this is real sustained injury from which she might know her limits. But it is not. It is because she has stuffed 1,290 bits of rock down her knickers, 3,596 pieces in her trouser legs, and a further 2,400 rocks in her socks.

All of them, precious.


Ceri said...

At least the rocks were in her pocket/sock/whatever. In our family they end up in mine!

Grit said...

ceri, she had already filled up my bag. i could barely stagger back. i felt like one of those army training guys who run with bricks in their backpacks.

MadameSmokinGun said...

Had a very similar experience the other day on a 'fossil hunt' dahn Hastings. My shoulder still hasn't recovered from half the beach in my bag. I think the coffee table is having the same trouble now. And my over-eager 'follow-up' tendencies have resulted in half painted egg boxes full of scientifically categorized stone collections that I now cannot move for fear of explosive retribution. But I love it - for once at least one child (in this case TWO!) has shown an interest in something other than sport and telly!

sharon said...

Hmmm, this could have repercussions of the excess baggage type on your travel plans for the coming year or so. Along with a vast assortment of rocks and stones in what is laughingly known as our garden we have a selection of fossilised 'roo poo which at least has the advantage of being lightweight!

Dave H said...

It sounds like she needs to meet my son, who also collects rocks. It helps that his babysitter is now studying geology at university, so she's helped him sort his rocks into different types. He's decided he likes flint.

We make him carry his own rocks, and he did for a 3.5 mile walk the other day.

Glowstars said...

Our school geology trips were never that much fun!

emma said...

ha!!! my first ever abseil was down the walls of that very quarry :-D Isn't it _splendidly_ crumbly? Oh, and I have a vivid memory of climbing inside an unattended digger in the quarry once, and being quite shocked aged 10 or so that the driver (the father of two girls at my school) had something - top shelf mag? calendar? News of the World? - with naked laydeez in it sitting there in the cab.

Big mamma frog said...

It's not just kids that do that 'collecting rocks' thing. I carried a boulder the size of a microwave all the way from a beach in dorset because it had bone fossils in it.

And yes, my family laughed at me.

I called the huge boulder 'Fred', we drove several hundred miles home with it, and it's now lodged by the pond in my garden, looking rock-like and not in the slightest bit attractive. But it's mine!

Grit said...

thank you for your comments, people. i am starting to feel more normal, and now know we cannot be alone in our gentle pursuit of building dry stone walls across the front room.

Big mamma frog said...

hmmm...I wanted to add a comment to your most recent blog post, but it wont let me and now I'm sulking.


Grit said...

big mamma, i sometimes turn off the comments if i am buried beneath the wall. i usually turn them back on again as i crawl my way out.