I had a feeling it wasn’t going to be one of those ‘relaxing’ type of holidays after overheating for the third time in just 10 miles and being escorted off the road by the police concerned for our welfare as the campervan crawled along the A road. Thank goodness we didn’t venture too far! The excitement of arriving at the campsite to wild rabbits everywhere proved too much for our puppy and so it came that all five of us were squeezed into the campervan on the first night while the ample awning lay invitingly empty!

Sat the next morning on a stony lakeside edge, watching the children paddling, I found my eyes drawn to potential fossils in the shingle. A glimpse of pattern revealed a fossilised plant stem, perfectly cylindrical with a pale coloured core. Next I spied a whole fossilised shell, heavy with years of rock. Another glance yielded segments of ammonite with their architecturally appealing curved ridges. Some tapered smooth white stones, resembling sharks teeth to anyone with a vivid imagination, completed the collection.

Brierely (1994) identified the importance of pattern and novelty for learning and development with children’s brains hardwired to spot patterns in everything they experience. If a child’s environment remains unchanged they will quickly lose interest and focus turn to finding something novel and new to discover. Often as adults we are too busy to notice the pattern that surrounds us in everyday life, from the sounds we hear and sights we see to the amazing pattern found naturally in arcing dunes, honeycomb cells, flower petals to architectural monuments. It is in moments of quiet reflection and concentration like fossil hunting that our minds ‘quieten’ sufficiently to notice and appreciate the detail in life. Detail that as adults we often take for granted but that excite and really captivate young children, from a perfect shaped pebble, to a ladybird, a feather to a piece of discarded plastic, anyone who has observed young children will recognise their fixation for detail. I really enjoyed this quiet moment watching amazing patterns reveal themselves like hidden jewels.

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