Each time the Suffolk branch of the family comes to Ardnamurchan, we mount an expedition to the Shelly Beach, the one tucked in behind Rubha an Duin Bhain to the northeast of Sanna. This time we reached it by leaving the car on the Sanna side of Achnaha, and walking along the old Achnaha-Plocaig track.
Plocaig is an abandoned village, one which was once more populated than Sanna but which died in the early years of the 20th century when the new road was built to Sanna, leaving the people of Plocaig with a rough track and a burn to cross, the latter being achieved by some stepping stones laid many, many years ago.
The Shelly Beach is one that it infrequently visited but someone had been there recently and created this lovely artwork. We particularly enjoyed the pair of decorously placed limpet shells.
We go to the Shelly Beach for.... the shells, with which it abounds. It has far more of them than any other West Ardnamurchan beach, but what's most important is that it has one particular shell, the pinkish one seen at bottom right of the picture - the northern cowrie - Trivia arctic or T. monacha - the species are indistinguishable except to the expert.
Why collect cowries? Well, they're not easy to find elsewhere, there are just enough of them to collect a few but not too many, they're rather pretty and.... well, they're money. The 'money cowrie', Monetary moneta, is probably the best known, having been used as currency in both Africa and Asia for hundreds of years, and well illustrates how the basis of currency doesn't have to be a precious metal like gold, it simply has to be something which is difficult to find or make, and is accepted as a unit of exchange by all. Hence the bitcoin, the currency of the internet, which is 'mined' by computers.
It's quite amazing how a search like this draws in even quite 'normal' adults. They found a few cowries but, between them, the two girls collected over a hundred, and discussed the possibility of taking them to the shop to see if they'd be acceptable in exchange for sweets.