Well it’s been a few days or more since my last post, put this down to me finally having a break from work (both my full time job and my charity work!) and deciding I needed a break from my laptop altogether!
I had a hectic but fun filled week, having a friend and her sister and baby come to visit me on Tuesday for the first time since I’ve moved to Derbyshire, then visited a friend in the lovely town of Tewkesbury for the best caramel macchiato anywhere and a visit to my second favourite bookshop in the world! (Cornell Books, the shop is in an original wooden beamed building and has so many books both new and old I could spend hours in there) I love visiting mates when I can as my life is so hectic these days that I rarely allow any me time or time for friends (and family). It’s always a good opportunity to catch up on the latest gossip too!!
But last week was amazing for another reason, I had the honour of being invited to one of my best mate’s wedding down in Bournemouth on the English south coast. Is it unusual for a bloke to enjoy weddings so much?? I don’t care, I find them joyous occasions, there is something being surrounded by people on such a happy day that makes you forget about wordly woes! That is why I’ll always say yes to any wedding invites, in fact I’d happily be a paid guest for anyone out there to make up numbers if needed!
Anyhow, back to the wedding in question which was all the way down Bournemouth, a seaside resort I haven’t been to since I were a child with my parents. As such I was looking forward to experiencing a wedding on the beach, a totally novel idea to me! The weather the day before I travelled down didn’t bode well though, with torrential rain all evening, I was worried what this would mean for my friends! But cometh the hour cometh the sun so to speak, and on waking up on the Friday the sun was once more shining out the sky. Knowing what our motorways are like in this country, with its endless roadworks and average speed cameras, I set off at the early time of 7am. Little did I realise then what a good judgement this would be, arriving at my guest house just after 12pm, giving me 20 minutes to get myself changed into my wedding gear and book a taxi to the beach!
Arriving at the guest house brought back many memories for me too. I’m not sure what it is like for the rest of the world, but guest houses (basically bed and breakfast) at the seaside across England are generally in old Victorian/Edwardian buildings, which would have once housed a rich family and their serfs, but which then became converted into tiny bedrooms. Back in the 80’s when I were a kid, these guest houses were always run by very strict looking ladies and the houses had a strange smell to them! You had to share a bathroom down the corridor and as the hot water tank made horrible noises it meant everyone had to be done by 8pm at the latest! The other guests always seemed to be old couples so there were never any other children to play with (I was an only child till I were 10 years old). The beds would always be hard and you’d have sheets that would be tucked in so tight it became a challenge just to get yourself in bed, and there would be so many blankets you’d be roasting, I know the english climate isn’t the best in the world, but god, a bit extreme! I didn’t mind the evenings too much in having to be quiet because I was an avid reader so I’d happily get stuck into my books or comics, but having to be very polite and sit in almost reverential silence at breakfast was horrible! I couldn’t wait to leave where I could become my normal noisy self on the way to the beach! But the modern guest house has obviously had to evolve and change in order to attract people to stay at english seasides instead of going abroad. The guest house of old would be empty today! So as to mine, even though it still looked the same from the outside as my childhood memories, the inside was something completely different! Bright and airy, with en suite bathroom and flat screen t.v. and free wi-fi, everything a modern visitor wants! I had a visit from the owner to see if everything was ok and a choice of breakfast, from the full english fry up on the Saturday morning to combat my raging hangover to the a posh healthy breakfast of greek yogurt with oat and fruit and a croissant.
I’m getting ahead of myself again though! After a quick change into shirt and tie and shorts (as it was a beach wedding and the weather was glorious, we had been told we could wear shorts! How awesome??) I made my way down to Bournemouth beach not knowing what to expect. Following some people also in shirts and shorts (I made the assumption these must be fellow wedding guests as who else normally goes to the beach all smart??) I found myself at a large marque where I bumped into some friends and prepared for the main event. But I couldn’t help but look around me with a huge grin on my face as we were literally on the beach and one side of the marque was open so you could look directly onto the beach and the sea and get the fresh sea breeze. Suffice to say, the ceromony was very moving, both the bride and groom looked stunning and we were able to go and stand outside after in the sunshine and dip our feet in the sea. The bride got quite a few smiles as she went and got her picture taken while dipping in her wedding dress!
The evening celebrations comprised of the happy get together of friends and family of the bride and groom with lots of drink (I may or may not have done the 22 push up challenge while very drunk!) with a firework show off the main pier. I love fireworks, fireworks off a pier therefore were amazing to me!
On the Saturday, nursing a very sore head, I made my way back down to the beach again to meet up with the newly married couple and some other guests who were able to stay and it was simply one of the best days for me this year! Surrounded with great company, simple picnic food and once again having amazing weather (albiet with a very short 5 minute rain shower, wouldn’t be england without the rain shower at the seaside while on the beach!) we literally spent all day dozing on the sand, enjoying a few beers. For me this brought about a complete day of relaxation which I’ve been needing since my hectic charity week, a chance to unwind. And it was here that I realised how much I love the seaside and how much I’ve missed it. From the simple act of dipping my feet into the cool sea and feeling the waves brush against my legs and becoming hypnotised by the sound, to hearing the sounds of happy people around me, both children and parents alike, I could gradually feel all of my stress ebbing away like the tide.
British seasides will never be as glamerous as some of the european or Australian ones, but then if you want that, you should go abroad! For me, Bournemouth beach captures everything that the English seaside resort should be! Welcoming to people of all ages, having a nice clean beach, the old fashioned pier and shops selling traditional grub and ice cream and candy floss, to me there is no better experience. I am a sandy beach person (we do have a number of beaches of stone, they still have the nice wave sound, but you do struggle to lie down for any longer than half an hour!!), and the simple act of going bare foot for a few days was bliss!
I were there only a few days, but I really didn’t want to go home! The Sunday became your more traditional english weather day, with a steady drizzle, but I went for one final walk along Poole beach, and even though it was damp out, there is something invigorating about the coastal air, it really does blow away the cobwebs. I actually do understand why some people choose to live there all the time, even if you would be having to share your beach and town with an extra few thousand people every day for the summer and bank holiday period! But I could actually quite happily live at a seaside in my retirement, ambling along the beach with my dog (I don’t have one, but this is my retirement dream so anything is possible!), and actually with the amazing New Forest in close proximity, I wouldn’t mind living in Bournemouth!
However, I have decided in the meantime that I’m not going to leave it so long till I go away this time, and I’m hoping to make either a return visit down south or maybe even the south west down to Devon/Cornwall. The only criterion is it must have a sandy beach so I can take my shoes off to get the feel of soft sand on my feet, and some proper fish and chip shops nearby (you literally can’t beat fish and chips by the sea, mainly because the fish would have been likely caught on the day so is very fresh!) and lots of coastal walks. I’ve worked out that this is the sure fire way of actually destressing once and for all, so altogether now..”oh I do like to be besidethe seaside…”