She tells of seashells

THIS is what it looks like at the bottom of the sea.

It’s low tide in Weymouth harbour on this quiet, clear Saturday. The water’s green and glassy on top. Today, it lets us glimpse what lies beneath – sand smeared over pearly shells, glistening black weeds clinging to rock.

Cormorants bully the gulls, holding court on the moorings.

I’m thrilled by scores of scallop shells, shucked on the harbourside by fishermen, then chucked back in the sea. I climb down a metal ladder to the surface to see if I can pick one up – the water’s only a couple of feet deep, but the shells are out of reach. I buy a square net and bucket from the Old Harbour Dive Centre and head back down the ladder. Bingo! I scoop up a shell from the seabed. It looks pretty manky.

Earlier, on the beach, I found a large cockle shell, mottled and frilled. All sort’s been tossed up today. The tang of salt is in the air and frozen sea foam wriggles away up the sand.

We stroll past men varnishing their boats, past the Cornish pilot gig being hauled into Weymouth Rowing Club‘s hut, and climb up the steep incline to the Nothe Fort.

At the top of the Nothe, squirrels are scrambling round tree trunks. They’re very tame – one drinks out of a puddle, and another climbs up Duncan’s leg. I’ve never been so close to one of these creatures, so quick they’re just a blur in a photograph. (So I upload a short video to YouTube). Why are they called grey squirrels? They’ve got startling fox-red splashes down their back and tails, and sweet little white bibs. Have we discovered an entirely new species?

We stroll down towards Hope Square and suddenly, there’s something new everywhere I look. Fouled anchors painted on drainpipes, Weymouth Peace Garden – never been there! – a heritage plaque on Wellington Court, an old pub frontage, wrought-iron fish adorning the Cefas gates, not to mention the fossils mounted on its walls.

And now for cake. We head for Time For Tea, a darling little bistro run by a Frenchman called Pascal (who can be heard exclaiming and battering pans in the kitchen). Cake, and Earl Grey served in a white china teapot. Yum.

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