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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
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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

Seaside Special - Lockdown dodging: East Sussex Part 1

2020 wrecked a lot of things. Lives, families, jobs, businesses, mental health, trust in an inept, crony-powered Government. And holidays. Which is how we found ourselves in Peacehaven, East Sussex rather than the Bay of Kotor, Montenegro. That isn’t a moan. Our family endured a Covid-ravaged year with only a few grazes. Minor abrasions in comparison to the havoc and misery visited upon thousands of others. In the circumstances we were thrilled to grab a holiday at all. Particularly so as I sat on the terrace of our rented bungalow, swigging bottled West Coast IPA, observing a few small craft plying a remarkably quiet English Channel. The dog at my feet was rolling in the gravel and panting after our substantial walk over the coastal South Downs. Mrs A was pouring a large splash of something red and French. Julie was joining me in a well-deserved beer. The hike had been an unalloyed joy, setting out by bus from our base in Peacehaven to the River Cuckmere and on towards Beachy Head

Seaside Special - In search of Theroux: South-east Kent

Buying a ticket for the new(ish) fast-line out to the Kent coast wasn’t as straight forward as it once was. And not just because the ticket vendor couldn’t stop looking at the purple pimple nestled angrily on my chin. No, there were other less skin-deep factors to consider, such as travel with or without the high-speed option; in or out of peak hours; including or excluding a promotional offer; having carefully pre-planned or simply succumbing to reckless spontaneity. My purchase, negotiated without any further scenario exploration, afforded me the right to traverse those gilded HS1 tracks. I settled into my Javelin train. ‘Britain’s Fastest’ it said on the cab. This one was named in honour of bullet Paralympic sprinter, Jonny Peacock. Rushed into service prior to the 2012 London Olympics, the Javelins’ have split open commuting times to Kent for those that can afford them. Stratford, Ashford and Ebbsfleet comprise the ‘International’ stations on the fast line out the other Internat