An Ambassador’s Journey – Martin Curtis: Part 1

Martin on Kimmeridge beach aged three
Martin on Kimmeridge beach aged three

When I was three years old I was lucky enough to have parents who would regularly take me and my brother to Kimmeridge for a day on the beach. While there my activities would include picnics, kite flying, fossil hunting, general mucking around and beach combing.

I remember many visits to all the Jurassic Coast villages and towns because this was where you generally went to access the coast… back in the day, this was the easiest option for my parents to entertain two boys full of energy!

As I grew up my interest with the coast faded as once a teenager I was more interested in doing up cars and finding a girlfriend… this was the point where I started to lose my connection with the area I had grown up in and the coast that I had enjoyed so much as a child….

At the tender age of 21, I upped sticks from Dorset to follow my girlfriend to uni. This took me to Kingston Upon Thames in Surrey. Here we made a life for ourselves for 17 years…. We made the occasional visit to Dorset but I never got to spend much time back on the beach as visiting family and friends became more time-consuming. My time in Surrey was spent working hard, enjoying life, DJ-ing and renovating my house… it was a serious illness that was to change everything!

While stuck in the rat race of working life in London my partner Clare became seriously ill, partly brought on through pressures at work. She had to have three months off to recover and it was in this period that we decided that we needed to change our working lifestyle.
It was decided that we would stop working on the house, cut our working hours and treat ourselves to a jet ski. It was the jet ski that was to reconnect us to the Jurassic Coast….
After spending every weekend for a year back in Dorset enjoying the coast on the ski, one day we found ourselves sat on Swanage beach discussing future plans. It was at that point that we realised we wanted to move back home and decided from then on we should complete the house, sell up and return to live in Dorset.

Once the house was finished our daughter Darcie was born, and after a year we started the process of putting our house on the market. A few months later it was sold and we had moved back. It was great to be back home, with the coast on our doorstep and being able to visit the beach whenever we wanted to.

The fossilised Brachiopod Darcie and Martin found on their first fossil hut together
The fossilised Brachiopod Darcie and Martin found on their first fossil hunt together

When you have a child to entertain, the first thing you want to do is let them experience the beach…. This was the point when I got back into fossil hunting. It was my job to look after Darcie to give Clare time to work as a freelance designer. Darcie was only two years old at the time, so for Clare to concentrate when working it was best that I took her out for a couple of hours. I would very often go for a walk along the beach with her in a baby carrier on my back and while there look for fossils. This is a picture of the very first fossil I found with her during one of those visits.

Martin Curtis