Maybe it is childhood memories that always include the unmistakable smell of the sea, but there is something about an off-season seaside town that I particularly enjoy. Nobody in the UK goes to the seaside for the weather, nevertheless I do like to be beside the seaside! It may be the damp mist that clings to the cheeks or the bracing sea air that blows the cobwebs away. It may be just that I find staying in a B&B is enough to make me feel I am on holiday even if only for a day.
Jim and I take therapeutic break several times a year and this time the destination was Weymouth on the Dorset coast. We arrived at the Seaham on a freezing March day. It is typical of B&Bs in these coastal towns, a fine Georgian townhouse looking out to sea and the harbour filled with boats.
Once settled and our bags dropped, we meandered through the streets stumbling across churches, stately red-brick buildings, working men’s clubs and Victorian bay fronted tearooms, offering scones with clotted cream. We wandered around the quayside dotted with old warehouse buildings converted into trendy bars and restaurants offering the ubiquitous fish dinners.
The delights of the day unfolded as we enjoyed a wind-swept walk along an all but deserted beach and soaked up the elements as our sense of sound, smell and sight were intensified. The scream of gulls in search of scraps circled above, the shades of grey on the horizon, the feel of soft sand beneath our feet, the smell of salty air and soggy chips.
Eyes and cheeks stinging happily from the wind, we eventually stopped at one of my favourite features of these harbour towns the old Victorian bus stop. In a true Far from the Madding Crowd moment, Jim and I sat close together like Bathsheba Everdene and Gabriel Oak watching the world go by, enjoying simple delights and the camaraderie of shared values. Exhausted and freezing cold, we finally headed back to the hotel, for a steaming hot shower. The next morning following an induced deep sleep after our exercise, and satisfied with a lovely breakfast we headed to the high point of Jim’s trip – Bovington Tank Museum.
It may have been good enough for Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt who visited after getting married, and no doubt like me, Angie had to hear that the museum features one of the best tank collections in the world, with more than 300 vehicles. Nevertheless, be it enough to say that she is relatively newly-wed and still in the like-minded stage of her relationship and I’m not. My honeymoon period is long over so while dearly beloved spent his afternoon taking in hulks of metal, I sat reading my book and managed to doze in a sheltered spot with the warm sunshine on my face.