Now what I am about to tell you about is NOT RECOMMENDED for anyone without training or experience of either foreshore archaeology or mudlarking, and I certainly wouldn’t do it myself in a situation which is either unfamiliar to me or isolated or both.
I decided to visit the foreshore, as someone on my Twitter feed had remarked that after the recent storms and high tides, it might be a good time to visit our sites and check. So having checked the tides, I decided to go and have a look at Greenwich, my local FROG site. I have been going there for years, and as an integral part of a major tourist destination, it is in an area which rarely becomes devoid of traffic, and is well lit at all times.
Before I set out, I not only checked the tides, I also checked the time for sundown. Partly because I wanted to take photographs, but also as part of the general health and safety precautions- if you are retreating from an incoming tide up the foreshore which may be rough or slippery underfoot, it helps to see where you are going.
Getting ready to go out: sensible footwear, check. In this case regulation Dunlop wellies. Greenwich is usually fine for walking boots, which I prefer, but after extreme weather it can spring nasty surprises in the form of cocoa like slime all over the foreshore, so I wasn’t taking chances.
Smart phone, Check. Not only is this a line to call for help in extreme circumstances, you can also get apps for things like Tide Tables and weather forecasts, and should the worst come to the worst, it is identification.
Money and or credit/debit card, hidden somewhere safe, check. You never know when you might need it- coffee after the expedition was very welcome! And the card would act as ID if required.
Wipes or sanitiser of some sort, check. If you handle anything on the foreshore, it is as well to at least wash your hands before eating, as the river although cleaner than it was, is by no means sterile!
When I arrived at the foreshore I found a busker in place on Queen’s stairs. This guy had been there in the summer when we were doing fieldwork in hot weather, giving the place the air of a Caribbean beach. Although you couldn’t quite say that this time, it was certainly relaxing. Apart from everything being slightly more scoured out and defined than the last time I was there, I couldn’t really see anything I wasn’t already aware of, there was just more of it. The jetty which someone reported as being washed away last time there was a high tide, was still definitely there, the lower portions of it were more clearly visible, and the concrete and stone features near the Queen’s stairs and the section of Tudor riverwall(maybe a sluice gate?) stood out very clearly.
So no big changes(but hey, that’s a relief, surely?) so I took some pictures and made my way home via the Visitor Centre which at 4.45 was still open but only just.