Brian Day (UK)
I first got interested in Fossils by accident… I was an engineer by profession and worked lots of hours travelling to Germany etc. So I took my family on holiday at every opportunity. My family comprised my Wife, Son and Daughter. I enjoyed an early morning walk on the beach with my Son and looked forward to the smell of bacon on our return.
About 35 years ago we were staying at Warren Farm which is between Blue Anchor Bay and Watchet in Somerset. One early morning my Son who was about eight years old, we were walking on the beach together, when he said,” look what I have found”. It was a lovely Ammonite. I was instantly hooked. This was to be my hobby for the next 35 years. We took the fossil to the Natural History Museum in London who said that it was an Ammonite, Caloceras Johnstoni, Early Jurassic, age 190-200 million years, The ammonite had a distinctive irridescent surface. It is in fact the oldest Ammonite, hence the flat surface.
I started collecting at every opportunity, but always taking the family with me to various locations so we had time together. My favourite locations were Blue Anchor Bay. Warren Bay, Helwell Bay, and Doniford Bay. Somerset. I built up a vast collection of Psiloceras planorbis Ammonites over the years, only collecting from the loose shale on the beach.
Living in Essex I have visited Walton-on-the-Naze often over the years, and have collected hundreds of sharks teeth from the London Clay (45Ma) and hundreds of fossil shells from the Red Crag. (2.6Ma). Working in Germany my German friends often gave me Fossils that they had found, in there local areas.
A colleague in my office had a Brother that worked on a Dredger in the English channel and kept me supplied with several Mammal bones and Mammoth teeth. So visits to Isle of Wight, Folkestone Kent, Isle of Sheppey & Seatown Dorset to name a few were always productive.
Visits to the Essex Fossil & Mineral show where I made many contacts with collectors and have bought some bargains. My friend Terry from I Dig Dinos in Rochester have produced some nice pieces from Morocco, etc for me.
Since I retired I now have the opportunity to spend time prepping fossils that I have collected, which I enjoy very much. I have learnt by experience that not to prep fossils that I have found on location and to bring them home and spend time working to achieve the best results. I have built up a vast collection of several thousand fossils over the years but I still get a kick out off finding a fossil even if I already have several of that type already.
I have given several lectures at the school where my three Grandchildren attend in Colchester, I am known as the Fossil Man. The pupils love the hands on approach where they can hold and inspect the fossils. I hope that they will be the collectors of the future.
Collecting from the foreshore means that no damage is carried out to the coast line and the fossils are not destroyed by the sea. Hopefully my collection will be preserved by future generations of my Family.