Monday, February 21, 2011

The smelly danger of beach-combing

Yesterday I waxed poetic about going to the beach with my children. And it really is a wonderful thing to do with your kids. However, there are dangers.
My shell collector.

This morning, as my son got into our mini-van I heard him exclaim "It stinks in here!". Since he's rather sensitive to smells, I thought nothing much of it. But as I got into the van myself I almost retched. It smelled like something died in there. Something I hoped had not spilled all over the seats and interior.

You know that smell you get from the garbage if you had prawns the day before and forgot to tie up the bag and dispose of it? Yea, it smelled like that.

Looking around, I spotted a small, blue plastic bucket on the floor. It was about 1/3 full of rocks and shells. I leaned over and took a sniff. And then wished I hadn't. Shells + remains of some kind of seafood + three days in the van = an unholy stench.

I quickly took the remains outside in the yard and disposed of them in the garden. Then we drove to school with open windows, even though it was -5 Celsius outside.

This experience reminded me of when my family returned home after our layover in Iceland last winter. The tap water in Iceland smells of sulphur, unless it's been filtered and treated. And of course, if you go swimming in the beautiful thermal pools of the Blue Lagoon, the water is also full of sulphur and assorted other minerals.

We had rinsed our bathing suits as best we could before packing up our belongings to go back to Canada, but when I opened our bag once we were home... yeesh. It was a souvenir I had not counted on.

So, if you are on a beach trip, whether it's over the day or going away somewhere nice and tropical for a couple of weeks, beware of putting shells into your car or bag unless they have been properly cleaned of any previous inhabitants.

I still swear by the beach as the best destination when you're traveling with kids, but in future I will pay more attention to what goes into that blue bucket!

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