A dozen places you can go to be alone. WHICH WOULD YOU CHOOSE?
Films, television and the media are to come under strict scrutiny and indecent images are to be banned. People dealing with lockdowns, social distancing and Pandemic Pandemonium ae finding it very stressful when they turn their television on for escapism and relaxation only to be confronted with scenes of people shaking hands, hugging and even kissing. Seeing a crowd scene is liable to cause a total breakdown.
Here is your handy guide to what pictures you must NOT put on Facebook, Instagram or blogs.
A Pictorial Guide to Social Distancing
To some a Staycation means not going abroad for their holiday, for others it means staying at home in the garden. With our bathroom being ripped out and hopefully replaced, we took the bus into town with our wheelie cases.
Friday evening we arrived in torrential rain, Saturday and Sunday saw heat waves and on our last night we watched the lightning from our balcony.
For writers and photographers, finding interesting places to stay is vital. We had five nights at an Art Deco hotel which I’m sure has seen better days, but makes a good Premiere Inn. We had a front balcony, only on the second floor, but still fun to look out at everything going on. Westover Road has also seen better days; now an interesting mix with art galleries, posh jewellers and pub at the other end, the lovely Pavilion across the road from abandoned Odeon cinemas and a YMCA hostel next to the hotel. Opposite us, coaches delivered endless day trippers.
After breakfast on the first morning we went up to the ninth floor and found a writer and photographer’s delight, the rear view; a riot of fire escapes with a little old house surrounded by layers of building developments. A walk up the road took us to the official opening of a newly pedestrianised area, Darth Vader and friends turned up collecting money for charity.
Down at the pier and the main beach, which you always see in newspaper pictures of seaside hot spots, was busy, busy, busy; beach parties with tables laden with food and very loud sound systems. A walk to the end of the pier brought a bit of peace and a good view of the zip wire which takes you back to the beach.
What did I learn from pretending to be a visitor? The homeless group that always seems to be there when I go to Bournemouth and get off the bus, IS always there; a double bed arrangement which stretches halfway across the pavement with several occupants near to our busy hotel. Of course they are not the only homeless; in a town full of happy holiday makers and lively young language students they are the spectre at the feast and Darth Vader isn’t the only one ignoring them. In the gardens there are buskers and a young man doing fire juggling with a sign ‘Homeless but Trying’. At the shops there are Big Issue sellers. I bought a Big Issue.
The Royal Bath Hotel nearby is a great place to stroll into. Sit and cool off inside the huge fascinating lounge or enjoy the sun in the gardens. You could stay all day, people watching, plug in your lap top etc. without anyone noticing. This hotel has also seen better days, as we discovered when we went there for dinner one evening to try the ‘special three course meal’ – no wonder it was so reasonable; we needn’t have worried about being smartly dressed, there were some very strange guests.
On our last day we went abroad on a cruise; bus to Poole Quay for a boat trip to the start of the Jurassic coast at Old Harry Rock and then to Swanage on The Isle of Purbeck, an hour’s trip. We disembarked at the restored Victorian Pier for five hours ashore. A short walk takes you through the pleasant seaside town to the station where you can see steam trains, take a ride to Corfe Castle or have a snack in the railway carriage cafe. A walk out to Peveril Point and we could stand on the cliffs and look back to Bournemouth.
For more Staycation pictures visit my website.
Have you been on a Staycation?
I got off the train wearily, borne along the platform with the other commuters. It was only Wednesday but I was fed up already, who wouldn’t be, having to go to work on a sunny July day.
How had this happened to me, fourth generation of my family on the train to Waterloo every morning to a job I loathed. Was that what it had been like for Dad, Granddad, uncles and aunties, or did they just accept it as their position in life? Twenty three and still living at home so I could save up, save up for what?
I was working for a company everybody except me thought was exciting; Bright Designs was going places, but I wasn’t.
I stopped on the busy concourse and stood still for the first time ever; I usually dashed straight for the escalator to the underground. Around me everyone was rushing, I thought of Tim my old school friend, in Thailand teaching English, travelling cheaply and posting beautiful pictures on Facebook. Voices intruded into my Land of Smiles fantasy and my eyes focussed on a couple at the barrier to platform 13.
You just don’t get it, do you Josh? A train to the seaside is not my idea of a surprise holiday, even if we were staying together.
I stared at Josh, smart looking bloke, but sounded like he was as successful as me with women.
I don’t understand Lizzie, I thought you wanted to get away for a few days and talk.
It’s too late for that.
Lizzie disappeared into throngs of commuters oblivious to her little drama, out of sight before Josh had even turned his head. He tore off his back pack and threw it on the ground and then, as if he could feel my curious stare, he looked up at me.
‘Hey mate, care to swap lives. Looks like you could do with a trip to the seaside, train leaves in ten minutes.’
He proffered his train ticket.
‘You wouldn’t want my dreary life Josh.’
‘So neither of us have anything to lose, go on, hand me your man bag and take my rucksack.’
What on earth possessed me? I slung the back pack on my shoulder and put the ticket in the slot at the barrier. Josh had already gone, taking my wallet, paperback and ID pass for Bright Designs with him. I patted my pocket, my phone was the only thing I still had of me.
Settling into a window seat I almost laughed out loud, runaway train. Nobody except Josh knew where I was going; I didn’t know where I was going and I didn’t care.
As the train moved off I looked at the ticket, Bournemouth. Then I casually dipped into the rucksack as if I knew what was in it; a wallet with notes as well as several debit cards and a thick envelope, signed for delivery. I had no compunction about opening it, Josh wanted me to have his life. Afterwards I realised what an idiot I had been, it could have contained drugs or might even have exploded.
But all it contained were two sets of keys, detailed computer print out maps, a set of directions and two pictures, a row of beach huts and a smart white apartment block. What was Lizzie missing? My initial thoughts had been – arrive at seaside, get ice cream, go for a paddle. But now I was going to have a holiday.
Just when we would have been having coffee at work I was standing on the cliff top. The sea and sky were unbelievably blue, the air balmy, this was a dream. I followed the instructions for the beach hut and descended a steep path with cliff on either side framing a view of sparkling sea with land on the horizon.
Ten minutes later I was in the little wooden hut divesting the rest of my work life and putting on swimming shorts out of the collection of beach gear handily provided. With the warm sand between my toes I was a child again. I plunged into the sea, not as cold as I was expecting. My freedom was complete as I struck out through the gentle waves then turned to look back at the cliffs, I was out of my depth and out of my life. I whooped like a teenager, how I wished everyone at work could see me; perhaps not. This was a holiday that would not be posted on Facebook.
For more tales of land and sea dip into…
There is plenty to enjoy living by the sea, even if you never set a toe in the water. But there is so much to do involving seawater that it’s a shame if you don’t dip your toes or whole body in.
You need nothing if you have a naturist beach nearby or you can go to the other extreme and encase you body in a wet suit and acquire lots of equipment.
Paddling is the first introduction for most of us to the ocean and waves, warm and soothing at low tide on a sunny day, cold and daring at high tide on a windy day.
But swimming is the ultimate, leaving the land to which you are bound, seeing the coast from a different view point. On a hot day with the sun sparkling on the ripples it is bliss, on colder days it’s invigorating with the initial shock turning to a burning glow. I have never worn a wet suit, assuming it would take away the feeling of freedom and more importantly I don’t think I could manage to pull one on, let alone peel it off again.
A beach hut doesn’t involve water and many enjoy sitting outside their huts with the kettle boiling enjoying the view and watching the world go by. On a hot summer weekend the whole world does go past your beach hut if you are on the promenade, so a snooze in peace is unlikely. But for the swimmer a beach hut is a great luxury, even if it’s only a six foot wooden box – six foot square, not the six foot long other kind of wooden box. You don’t have to lug your towels, folding chairs, buckets and spades and wind breaks down to the beach each time and you have somewhere to get changed.
Renting our little square of concrete from the council (we own the hut ) is not cheap, but probably cheaper than the many sea sports which involve getting all the gear. From paddle boarding on a calm day to owning your own sailing boat there are many ways to be on the ocean. For some, their boat is a part of family life just as a dog is for other families. I am a touch envious of people who can sail over and drop anchor just off Studland Beach, a lovely stretch of natural coast unspoiled by groynes or promenades, it also includes the nudist beach. The rest of us face a slow bus trip or drive across the conurbation of Bournemouth and Poole and a £4.50 trip on the chain ferry ( £1 for pedestrians and bikes ). But a boat owner told me the trouble with owning a boat is, you feel compelled to go out in it if the weather is good, so you never get to do other things on a sunny day.
If you are adventurous you can go surfing – big board, kite surfing – little board or wind surfing. All of them involve falling in the sea a lot and being watched by other people and photographers. These sports also involve lugging around equipment and spending ages getting ready and deciding if the wind or waves are right.
So I shall stick to swimming; after the days of torrential rain and changeable weather, I finally had my first swim of the year on Saturday. Sea temperature 16 degrees. It was lovely, but there is one piece of equipment I would like; a waterproof camera for a real sea view.
Visit my website for more coastal views.
Some of the stories in Times and Tides are set at the seaside.
Times and Tides of a Beachwriter is brought to you today by the colour pine green, chosen by Jill Denison, whose favourite colour blue was already taken. I hope we can do justice to this shade of green. You can visit Jill’s blog here.
Pine Green is surely the oldest shade of green. Pine trees are hardy and grow in many parts of the northern hemisphere. They were evolving during the early Jurassic period, old and dependable, not like flighty deciduous ( broadleaf ) trees with their fancy hues ranging from gold, through bright green to bronze. Pine green is a colour that stands out against the pure white of snow covered landscapes; pines the only trees hardy enough to survive long dark winters.
Pine green will make you think of real Christmas trees with their delightful scent, or perhaps the aptly named Pinewood Studios next door to Black Park in Buckinghamshire, with its 500 acres of woodland. In Bournemouth the Victorians thought pine trees were good for your health and planted many in this seaside town so visitors coming to convalesce would benefit. Consequently there are over forty roads in the area that start with Pine and as many that start with Wood. Thank goodness for sat nav; imagine trying to remember if the friends you are going to visit live in Pinehurst, Pineholt, Pinevale, Pinecliff or Pinewood… Road, Avenue or Gardens… Pity the people who live in Woodland, Woodside, Woodstock… Drive, Close or Way and keep getting the wrong mail.
For some of us pine woods immediately conjure up a bear with a red jumper and yellow trousers and scarf. For nearly one hundred years Rupert Bear has lived in the pine woods.
But pine green is not always a popular colour in nature, the soft needle laden matting beneath the trees is barren compared with the rich diversity of plants and creatures found in ancient (not as ancient as pines ! ) English woodlands with their carpets of bluebells in spring. Pine trees waited billions of years to become the ubiquitous pine furniture; they grow quickly and smell delightful at the sawmill, but lovers and protectors of the sort of woodland that Robin Hood roamed around like to see green needles replaced by lacy summer green and golden autumn beech.
On a banal note, pine green is the colour of disinfectant. When we moved to the coast I had the idea that it would be fun to only have disinfectants and cleaning materials that were blue and had names such as Aqua, Ocean and Seaspray with fresh sea air scent. I hate the smell of pine disinfectant or air fresheners. Only the real thing will do.
Pine Green in fashion? I don’t think so. Who says ‘I think I’ll wear my pine green dress tonight’ or ‘Darling, why don’t you wear your pine green tie with that shirt.’
Pine Green belongs in nature.
If you would like your favourite colour to feature, put it in the comments.
Yellow, peacock blue, purple and pine green have starred so far.
One of these thirteen pictures, taken from my 99.8% full wordpress library, holds the clue to your luck this week. Which photograph has your name on it? Will it be good or bad luck waiting for you?
Dip into this book.
Sunday Salon, the occasional blog that brings you all the arts.
Today a rattling good story, two very different theatre experiences and a concert.
She Who Goes Forth by Audrey Driscoll
I posted this review on Amazon.co.uk, but it was rejected! I also posted it on Goodreads, giving it five stars.
Whether you are young or can remember setting out in life on your own, you will connect with France our heroine in this ripping yarn. She is the new girl and nothing in Luxor, Egypt is as she was expecting. France finds herself with a complex set of colleagues and like anyone new does not know what is going on. But with her trusty cello by her side she does not let much daunt her. Although this novel is a fantasy, it portrays real people at an interesting time in history. We are not sure at first what is truth, what is France’s imagination or what part others have played in the strange happenings. Then events start to happen fast and there are terrifying page turning moments as France’s life changes forever.
Whatever your taste in music, drama or films; going out to a live event is always an experience.
The Pavilion, Bournemouth
The Pavilion has been celebrating its ninetieth birthday, not the oldest theatre in the country, but it has seen off two winter gardens and survived several attempts at closure or change.
The actual birthday night was celebrated with a trip back in time, three hours of varied entertainment for less than £10. A municipal orchestra was recreated and rose from the orchestra pit. This was followed by amateur silent film of Bournemouth in 1929 and newsreel films accompanied by the fantastic Compton theatre organ, which can also pop up and down and can make the whole theatre vibrate. At the many keyboards was Donald Mackenzie who plays its sister organ at the Odeon Leicester Square.
After the interval was a showing of my favourite old musical, 42nd Street, made in 1933 when movies had made a great leap forward from silent to large scale musicals. The first time I watched it was when the lovely Art Deco cinema in Christchurch was having its eightieth birthday in 2011. On that occasion Mark Kermode, film critic from the BBC, introduced the movie and declared how great it was that the little cinema was still using real ( reel ) film. Shortly afterwards the cinema went digital; modern technology has to be embraced to keep these places busy and functioning…
Meanwhile back at the Pavilion I enjoyed the film again, great music and a show business story that is still relevant, the fat bloke with the cigar and the money was Weinstein. As the film finished the organ rose from the pit with a resounding chord and played the National Anthem and yes we did all stand. Happy Birthday followed to round off a good evening.
Lighthouse Arts Centre, Poole
The Lighthouse opened in 1978 and has a concert hall, theatre, studio and cinema. We went to the theatre to see ‘Dracula The Bloody Truth’ a family friendly show with the premise that Bram Stoker stole a true story. Exeter based Le Navet Bete are committed to creating hilarious, physical and totally accessible comedy theatre using creative and engaging storytelling. The four chaps played many roles between them, including all the ladies. Their timing was brilliant as they mistimed everything, knocked scenery over or spoke each other’s lines. By the end of the first half, most of the set had fallen onto the stage. It was hilarious for the adults, but even better, the theatre was filled with the genuine laughter of children.
Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, has not been based in Bournemouth since it moved to the Lighthouse; it plays its main season of concerts there and some are broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 – make sure you have your mobile phones turned off! But it still plays some concerts at the Pavilion and also in other towns all over the South West of England, as well as spreading out its members to work with schools and care homes.
Even if you are not interested in classical music you probably have an idea what happens at a live concert and you would be right… audience sits down as orchestra come on and start tuning, leader of orchestra comes on, more applause, conductor and perhaps the soloist comes on; even greater applause and they haven’t even done anything yet, but they look smart. If there are choir seats behind the orchestra and no singing planned the audience can sit up there and get a great view of the percussion section, although I always worry the huge cymbals are going to go flying backwards into the audience as the percussionist strikes them with gusto. I have never tried these seats as it involves lots of clambering around watched by everybody else in the auditorium and it would be embarrassing to trip. On broadcast nights you can watch the radio presenter chatting away silently to the microphone in his little booth at the side of the stage…
But every concert can be different and there is plenty to watch. Serious concert goers who all know each other, school parties, restless children and inevitably some people who fall asleep; even the most ardent music lover can find their eyelids, or worse, their head drooping as a busy day catches up with them and they sit in warm comfort soothed by the music… and what of those going for the first time? At one concert, as we all filed up the shallow steps to the exit doors at the back, I heard a woman behind me saying to her chap
‘I feel like I’ve been run over by a tractor.’
You have no soul, it was fantastic.
‘Don’t ever bring me to a live concert again, I don’t mind listening to Classic FM on the radio…’
At a recent concert nobody knew what to expect and the conductor gave us an introduction so we would be prepared. It was the third symphony by Armenian composer Avet Terterian. Two soloists played small wooden instruments called duduks. The piece started with total silence for a good few moments which was surprisingly moving; do we ever hear total silence? This was suddenly broken by the drums. I noticed some of the orchestra had ear plugs and a lady up in the choir seats kept her ears covered the whole time. The duduks, far from being overwhelmed by the orchestra, played piercing notes that took you back to ancient lands. There were other periods of silence and sweet lyrical parts. I could not describe the symphony, but I loved it. There was rapturous applause at the end; it had been an experience.
If you recall the Sunday School chorus you will know the wise man built his house upon the rock and the foolish man built his house upon the sand. The rain came down and the floods came up. Even if you don’t know the chorus or Christ’s parable, I expect you can guess where this is leading. It is meant to be about building your life on Christ’s teaching, but it is also good engineering advice; advice that builders and councils everywhere, especially in coastal areas, often pay no heed to.
Someone I knew told me her father-in-law once had a chance to buy a cheap piece of land on the narrow strip of sand between Poole Harbour and the sea.
No thanks, it will be washed away in twenty years.
Sandbanks is now claimed to be the world’s most expensive coastal real estate in the world and the man’s descendants could hardly forget what they missed out on. But one day I’m sure the sand will wash away and there will be a different way out of the world’s second largest natural harbour.
Move a little further east and cliffs start to rise towards Bournemouth where houses have slid down the cliff over the years. If left to their own devices cliffs naturally crumble into the sandy beach below. But when man made promenades and buildings are put up, the beach is washed away (coastal drift ) and if resorts wish to keep their beaches they must be replenished with sand dredged up from beneath the sea. Houses on the cliff top move nearer and nearer to the edge and remnants of gardens can be seen flourishing vertically on the cliffside. Chunks of cliff often fall on beach huts and three years ago a landslide wrecked one of Bournemouth’s three cliff lifts.
But the council doesn’t wait for nature to knock buildings down. Last week was the ninetieth anniversary of Bournemouth Pavilion, which has survived both because of and despite councils over the years. It apparently took eighty years of discussion before it became a reality in 1929. In its life time it has seen two winter gardens demolished, but also saw Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra leave and move to Poole’s new arts centre. Looking out to sea from the ballroom the Pavilion was witness to a monstrosity being built at Pier Approach. This was The Waterside, featuring dark glass and a wavy roof designed to represent the sea. It was more commonly known as the Imax building and caused an outcry when it was opened in 1998, owing both to its looks and the fact that it blocked the view across Poole Bay to the Purbeck Hills. The Imax cinema only functioned for a short period and spent most of the years closed. In 2005 the Channel 4 programme Demolition asked people which building they would like knocked down and the Imax was judged first in line in England. The council then had to spend millions buying the building, demolishing it and creating a public ‘space’. Perhaps if they hadn’t demolished the swimming baths that stood there for fifty years…
When we moved into our current house nearly fifteen years ago, the neighbour one side told us that the neighbours the other side were not there; they had to move out because of subsidence! This was a bit worrying and we should have known not to buy a house built on sand. We are not near the cliff edge, because those properties are too expensive, but we are on what was once sandy heathland.
See more pictures of Bournemouth at my website.
Everyone is welcome here. Tidalscribe will be remaining in the European Union.