The Urban Beachcomber

Waking up at the crack of dawn, grabbing my bucket and spade and heading to the beach with my nan, for a beachcombing session, is one of my fondest childhood memories.

Beachcombing – for those of you who’ve never tried it – is the simple process of scouring the beach (preferably after high tide, in the early hours) for all the treasures both visitors and the ocean may’ve left behind. The promise of discovering something mystical and magical was a massive selling point for my younger self.

Just like an early morning run can make you feel at one with whatever path, road or track you choose to tread, beachcombing made me feel very much part of my surroundings; the distant ocean with all the promise of an afternoon paddle and endless sandy beaches, as untouched as freshly fallen snow. Irresistible!

My beachcombing adventures never produced any magnificent finds, but collecting, what at the time, felt like the most glorious pick ‘n’ mix of shells and pebbles you’d ever seen (baby pinks, peaches, mother-of-pearl and jet blacks) were all the treasures I needed. Pieces of worn-down glass always fascinated me; what were once sharp, shiny shards, now muted and in soft focus. I’d relish the post-beachcomb feeling of going back home to create something unique with my finds. Often a simple shell-encrusted frame or delicate handmade card. Again, nothing too adventurous, but my eight-year-old self was pretty satisfied.

Nicola White, creator of, Tideline Art (, has taken the ‘art’ of foraging along the coastline, to a whole new level. Using objects found along the Thames or the stunning Cornish coastline, she creates some fantastic pieces that make use of the oceans forgotten treasures. Take a look at Nicola’s, beautiful ceramic vase, complete with ceramic flowers and her brilliant blue fish (one of a skool!), created from glass found along the Thames   – pretty impressive, huh?

Tideline Art

Tideline Art 3

It’s been year’s – dare I say decade’s – since I last took to the pebbled shores, and as I am not blessed with a seaside location, I’ve taken it upon myself to turn this childhood hobby, into a commuting past-time. Plus, no need for a bucket and spade (and quite frankly, you’d probably rather leave things were you find them, if you’re doing this in the inner city) but if you look beyond the obvious what…treasures lurk on your commuter trail?

Last week alone, I discovered the following:

  • A discarded umbrella: so lovingly shoved behind a phone box and of course, mandatory for this time of year
  • A set of nail polish toes dividers: once used to make someone’s digits decidedly pretty

Beachcomber 3

  • A giant paperclip: the picture does not do it justice – it was huge

Beachcomber 2

  • A half-smoked cigar: disgusting habit, but rather glamorously unfamiliar in a London suburb
  • An unused paper label: crying out for that perfect gift to adorn

Beachcomber label 2

  • A babies dummy: the bright blue caught my eye from quite some distance away, I was hoping for better things

Beachcomber 4

  • Finally, a hubcap, surely the urban beachcombers dream?

I can’t promise you’ll find objects of any worth, but it might just give your daily commute a slightly different perspective.