So let’s talk about dinosaur poo because once up on a time, it was big business, not least around the Deben estuary in Suffolk.

We are talking 19th century, when the nascent artificial fertiliser industry was responding  to  the need to feed a burgeoning population.  Coprolites, which are fossilized dinosaur droppings with the consistency of stone, were found to yield superphosphate when ground up and mixed with sulphuric acid. And they were, furthermore, particularly thick on the ground – or, strictly speaking, in seams anywhere between three and fifty feet below ground – around the Deben.  Mining them could be expensive but the price was good enough to mean that, for three or four decades, big money was made by big landowners and even cottage gardens could yield enough to make digging worthwhile.  Read all about it in the March/April issue of Anglia Afloat.

In there, you will also find words and pictures of the East Coast rowing gigs now gracing the creeks and channels of the Essex coast. Think Scilly Isles rowing but smaller, four oars instead of six, but coxed even so.

Designed and built by the craftsmen of the Pioneer Sailing Trust at Harker’s yard, Brightlingsea, these gigs are the new dimension of coastal rowing. Four are already completed and racing and there will probably be 10 by the end of the year in the hands of six or seven clubs which have been formed specifically to race them.  These gigs are, refreshingly, made of wood or, more specifically, three layers of cold-moulded mahogany laminate, epoxy-coated and painted in the colours of Smarties. You’ll notice them if you see them.  There are a few pictures on the landscape page here.

Meanwhile, back in the Flatlands and in the same issue, read about the secretive River Little Ouse which gives boating in peace, with some of the more remote stretches of navigation to be found anywhere in the country.

And in the May issue, you’ll find much more about the Cambridgeshire waterways: the Fens, another world.

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