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Seaside Special - Physical Geography: Dorset

Even by the outstandingly high standards set by the rest of this glorious coastline of ours, Dorset is special. As a snotty-nosed schoolboy sat in a cavernous, drafty classroom I can still picture my inspirational geography teacher Mr Douglas in the throes of a misty-eyed eulogy about Durdle Door, Lulworth Cove and Chisel Beach. I have a lot for which to thank Mr Douglas. His genuine enthusiasm for the subject marked him out amongst his peers, most of whom were more motivated by clock-watching and time-marking. He was the difference between me leaving school at 18 as an immature, directionless waistrel, and me leaving university at 21 as a debt-laden immature directionless waistrel.   In many ways Ken Douglas was ahead of his time. I can remember him raging against the wanton destruction of the environment and the folly of building six-lane motorways across bits of rural England long before Swampy and his cohorts took to trees to protect East London from the M11 link road in the 90
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Seaside Special - Titanic emotions: Hampshire

RMS Titanic leaving Southampton by John Stewart Southampton was a coastal city I did not know well – save for a visit to Ordnance Survey’s hallowed offices in my first ever proper job – until Daughter No 1 took up residence there as a student.  The day we took her to the University halls of residence for the very first time was, predictably, full of sharp emotions and memory stabs.   Our collection of cavernous IKEA bags, long-time unregarded residents of the shoe cupboard, finally came into their own for moving day. Temporarily packed with bewildering items from Daughter No 1’s old and new existence, they played a key role in the home-uni transit arrangements. The bags and holdalls had to be relayed to the car in shifts and then crow-barred into the boot and seat wells. Jackie over the road looked out on the scene and said that they had to deploy their trailer, more often used for scout camps, when they took their daughter to uni.  Last to come downstairs from DN1s bedroom was a famil

Seaside Special - Diamond smiles: Isle of Wight

Always – no, never – set up an Out Of Office message. Because although it might be good, even required, practice in some quarters, the execution can go horribly wrong. I know. In the Summer of 2015, I managed to send out about a billion or so automated messages. By accident, of course. I’m not really sure how this happened. Something to do with the way I applied the filters, I believe. Even the polite little warning from Apple, saying “Are you sure?” didn’t alert me. About 30 seconds after clicking to activate, I realised that I had sent an e-mail about my holiday plans in reply to every e-mail in my work in-box. I’d sent an apology text to those that got the most. Brian said ‘”Just the 300-odd!” and Andy said “Don’t worry. Just replying to them all now”. There were a couple of unexpected consequences. Some colleagues I hadn’t been in touch with for ages replied “I think you’ve got a bug. By the way, why don’t we meet up soon?” One guy replied with some useful advice about employme

Seaside Special - Sprawling and Wittering: West Sussex

By March 2021, the grip of the Winter Coronavirus lockdown was beginning to free up. I was looking to break out some trips to the seaside again. I picked this coastline partly because earlier visits hadn’t done West Sussex much justice. And also because the area is relatively easy to do as a day trip. Bognor was to be the jumping-off point, because I had never been there at all. My most recent visit to the stretch of coast had been Littlehampton further east.   The only redeeming feature of that dull little town on a day in 2015 was a reasonable plate of grub at Osca’s Fish and Chips and a wonderful sky full of brooding thunderclouds heading over to France. Being back on the coast trail for the first time since the previous November gave me a preposterous sense of giddy freedom. The 97 days of Covid-19 restrictions from December to April had felt merciless. Apart from a brief trip in to London for my first Covid jab in February I had not left Berkhamsted since an early-December work

Seaside Special - Ramblin' Men: East Sussex Part 2

“That might be nice”, said Mrs A. “Find a nice little B&B up on the South Downs for an overnight stop”. Bryn had e-mailed me a link to a British Heart Foundation page about a London to Brighton walk over a Summer weekend in 2015. It did indeed sound appealing. Tough going, but over a couple of days, probably achievable. A short stroll to the beach... On further investigation, the challenge seemed a tad tougher than Mrs A and I had initially thought. The idea was to depart from south London on Saturday morning and arrive in Brighton on Sunday afternoon, having trekked through the night. BHF had filed this little trip under their ‘extreme events’ section, described as ‘The ultimate walking challenge. Up to 30 hours to walk 100k from London to Brighton’. It was either trepidation about rambling across Box Hill in the dark with only a head torch to stave off an 80 foot plunge that finally put Mrs A off; or the prospect of me, Bryn, Ad and Ben talking about cricket averages for a day