Gone Weston, Young Man #bankholiday #seaside #surprises

The pier at Weston Super Mare when we arrived; looks nice doesn’t it?

I like to nostalge with the best of folks but one place where I don’t hanker for a glorious past is the Great British seaside resort. As a child I spent two weeks with my family at Herne Bay every summer – my Gran lived on the front, overlooking the pier – the second longest after Southend I was often told. But even so we rarely spent much time on the beach because (a) it was covered in the sort of debilitating pebbles that weird eastern mystics enjoy walking on (b) my mother’s instinctive snobbery decried the poached skin; the oily Timothy White’s sun lotion; the kiss-me-quick, wish-you-were-here, saucy-postcard, whippy-ice-cream, sheer-ripoffery of all food, gifts and entertainment that was for purchase; and (c) my dad preferred hunting butterflies and caterpillars to sitting still on a beach – for him sitting still required a pint in his hand and good companionship, not mewling children and a tutting spouse.

Is this a more typical view of the beach, from my memories of mildewy summer days?

So finding myself in Weston- Super-Mare for the weekend and visiting Clevedon further up the Somerset coast risked bringing back many some less than welcome memories: the pervasive smell of fried food, the donkeys looking as shifty and miserable as their dodgy handlers, the tonnage of plastic paraphernalia to support beach time activities, the sadly out of date Winter Gardens and Pier and the instinctive need for a certain branch of Homo Erectus to promenade in inappropriate shortage, flip-floppery and string vestiges.

Today’s promenade – misty and appropriately sheltered from the unforgiving winds…

My inner Barbara turned up my nose and sniffed the corn oil atmospherics. Where was my trendy Shoreditch, my cultured National Theatre of long ago, Horatio?

But I’m a writer, for heaven’s sake. These are goldmines of stories and characters. Go looking, boy, and yeah shall find.

And, to my very pleasant surprise I not only people-watched merrily but I enjoyed the restored splendour of Clevedon’s Victorian pier

and, better still on the beach at Weston-Super-Mare, a sand sculpture park neatly tucked behind the bouncy castle and between the Olde Worlde Victorian Fish and Chip Emporium and not far from where Banksy chose to house his Dismal LandΒ ‘bemusement park’ exhibition. Chosen for a reason, methinks.

These substantial carvings are just sand and water – Weston sand had a sharp-edged grain especially suitable to being compacted for carving – who knew – Β and created by a range of International artists especially for the summer.

They say that, once dry, these blocks are hard and weather resilient. Added to which the whole thing was dog friendly. Tick.

Indeed the only reason we were in Weston at all is for the hotel – The Lauriston. This hardy three starred establishment is part of a chain of four hotels around the country specialising in places for the visually impaired and, get this, are especially dog friendly. Like Weston, the hotel has seen better days, it is worthy without show and it meets a need with a grace and enthusiasm that is as welcome as it is unexpected. A few more sculptures…

We met the Vet, now free of exams, at Clevedon up the coast with the Pest Controller – Dog was happy to see them.

The pier is a plain cast iron structure that is easy on the eye and is a easy promenade.

It felt so like Herne Bay pier, circa 1965 with none of the modern whizzbang machines and money sucking slots and only the views to distract the eye. Perhaps the nostalgia was enhanced by the weather – a persistent mizzle necessitating anoraks and supplies of coffee.

So my strolls were unexpectedly enjoyable. Teach me to stereotype a place as much as a person; like all generalisations, they are all futile.

More sculptures? Oh alright…

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published four books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars, Salisbury Square and Buster & Moo. In addition I have published three anthologies of short stories and a memoir of my mother. More will appear soon. I will try and continue to blog regularly at geofflepard.com about whatever takes my fancy. I hope it does yours too. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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31 Responses to Gone Weston, Young Man #bankholiday #seaside #surprises

  1. Ritu says:

    Those sculptures are amazing! Will have to try my hand when we go to Margate next week with Nursery!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sue Vincent says:

    The sculptures are fabulous…the weather reminds me of a seaside holiday and a picture of my brothers paddling in woolly jumpers that the water dragged down to their knees πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Fantastic sand sculptures. I remember the beauties at Weymouth. We have fond memories of WSM as this was where we introduced Maggie to horses when she was a puppy. We had covered all the bases (we thought) then realised we’d forgotten horses and trains. Trains she never felt comfortable wiith, but two girls were exercising their horses on the beach and we asked if we could introduce them to Maggie. The mare’s head was way bigger than she was, and we held her up for a sniff. Both animals were fine with that, and it was really funny when the horse whinnied and snorted, almost blowing her out of Hubby’s hands!


  4. Yes, don’t write off Weston just yet, although you won’t get your turmeric latte there yet, I think!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I wonder how long it took to make all those sand sculptures! Fantastic post!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. willowdot21 says:

    The sculptures are fantastical! I know Western, I believe I know the hotel you mention too! We know a blind lady and she and her guide dog, her husband band his guide dog, went there for many years. Her husband and his dog now deceased, I believe she may still go on her own . …. Sorry I think I went a little off Piste … Great blog, great photos and you can be forgiven for generalisation! πŸ’œπŸ˜ž

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Darlene says:

    Those sand sculptures are something else. Thanks for sharing. The dog looks happy and thatΒ΄s important.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This was a treat – the Victorian architecture of the pier was lovely, and those sand sculptures are amazing. I’ve always been astounded at what the artists can do with sand.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I sadly admit to not being fond of grotesqueries, even while admiring the talent and ability that goes into the making of them. But I think that they fit well into the mizzle and general appeal of the place. (I think I’m with your mum on seaside towns) I DO however love to hear that there are four hotels that welcome dogs in the UK. Four is better than none right? There’s something wonderfully welcoming about an establishment that allows animals inside……

    Liked by 1 person

  10. noelleg44 says:

    Love the sand sculptures! Perfect for a dank day with coffee. Glad you could take the dog! I once visited Brighton Beach in June – tacky but I did enjoy the men wearing hankies on their heads!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Val says:

    Amazing sand sculptures, though shouldn’t they be on the beach, ready to be washed away at the sea’s whim?
    I have an entirely different memory of the seaside as I felt truly happy there. I used to be taken by my parents to Weymouth – still the same dazzling frippery, but maybe I just remember the delight and not the stink? πŸ™‚ Oh – and it had sand sculptures… that the sea would eat up as the tide came and got them.
    I love the – what is it? A bandstand? Shelter? Room with loos that have cloaking devices aimed at them? Anyway, that.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Jools says:

    Wow… amazing sculptures! I empathise with your Herne Bay recollection, having been there a few times in recent years, never absent of mizzle, drizzle, rain and in one occasion a full-blown storm and flood. But that’s the English seaside for you, eh?

    Liked by 1 person

  13. What a fabulous post! Love the sculptures and love a seaside holiday!

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Thanks Lucy. The sculptures were fascinating though I’m not sure Weston is in my top ten seaside resorts. But I love them when they work and Clevedon was much more to my taste…

      Liked by 1 person

  14. tidalscribe says:

    There was a gentle comedy on television a few years back, set in Weston, the sort I like where nothing much happens.
    I used to catch the bus to Heathrow Central Bus Station to go to work and one day as I got off the local bus a coach driver was shouting ‘Anyone else for Weston super Mare’. I thought what fun, what an idea for a story, if you got on the coach for the seaside instead of going to work.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Pingback: It’s that Margate Time of Year Again! | But I Smile Anyway...

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