08 April 2019

Challenging morning in the field

We had two mornings in the field booked. One depended on the tide and the other didn't. Generally that works out! You just do the tide-dependent one on the day with the best tide and all will be well. The other one will sort itself! But this year it so happened that both days were bad. We have a chap who regularly has to go to various beaches so we asked him to have a look at the situation and provide advice. He suggested we should do the beach one last! He said it would be OK. And the non-tide-dependent day went very well. Now it was time for the one on the beach!

I had managed to organise enough staff for four groups. Not much to be honest! But one makes do. The students never all show up anyway. And next year we'd have more as it turned out that Jaco, who is teaching on this module, had never been on this trip. We would bring him as an observer this time and then next year he would be able to have a group of his own! And we had a guest lecturer with us. And Kate the caving PhD student who was also only doing it so she would be able to lead a group the year after.

I travelled on the buses with Lynda. And it became clear we only just had enough students to justify two buses! Oh well. Maybe not so bad this year, with little beach and few staff. We reached the beach in question (Red Wharf Bay) and met the other staff. And we saw there was no beach! Hmm. What we sometimes do is walk out on the beach and walk back through the caravan park. This time we'd have to do it the other way around! Oh dear. I'd never done it that way around. We first walked into a cul-de sac in the caravan park. The I figured I should have asked permission for this. Oh dear! Too late now. The n it started raining (but fortunately it stopped almost immediately afterwards). Then we didn't recognise where we normally come off the beach. We just went down the slipway in the end. It does get you to the beach! And there even was some. For a short while. Then we had to resort to clambering over the sea-weedy rocks. Not ideal! But everyone managed.

I had Jaco and Stephen, our guest carbonate sedimentologist. It was nice to have them! Steve was all over the place, scouting things, finding interesting fossils, pointing things out. Jaco was mainly taking notes. And the students were rather responsive! That was great. 

While we were doing our trip the tides slowly dropped. By the time we got to a famous palaeokarst landscape things weren't as bad anymore. And by the time we were back at the parking lot the first bits of beach were starting to show. The groups following us (we were in the lead) had a bit more space to move.

In the end I think we managed it! The students had a good time and I don't think anyone had a serious issue with the slippery rocks. There was some sliding but that was it! And next year I'll think of phoning the caravan park. And we've already picked a day with suitable tides. And we'll have more trained-up staff. All good!

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