You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘beach’ tag.

untitled

untitled

For various reasons we don’t have much time today and we want to keep it simple. So we spurn the siren call of Newhaven Fish Festival. Instead we decide to visit a coastal village that doesn’t actually exist, a true lost promenade.

Tide Mills is a derelict assemblage of ruins and water, on the edge of the sea in Sussex. It was abandoned in the 1930s when it became uninhabitable, due to the residents’ habit of emptying their toilets onto the beach at low tide. The buildings (which included a hospital, a railway station, a large mill and a pioneering Marconi radio station) were destroyed during the war when the area was used to train future soldiers in guerilla street fighting.

Linda's Store

Linda’s Store

The nearest railway stop is Bishopstone, a cute 1930s station surrounded with Enid Blyton bungalows, as silent as a cot death. We pass The Buckle, a monstrous house built on the ruins of a 16th century fort that helped see off the Spanish Armada. Now it features ornamental lamp posts that look like they came from Argos, and a simpering plaster cat. By contrast, Buckle Holiday Park, with stone lions guarding its entrance is much more tasteful.

The Buckle

The Buckle

At the head of the beach sits an odd little boat-club-cum-cafe, a prefab with a mast and rigging. Inside are red velvet banquettes and table tops papered with old maps. The owners have lived in the area since the 60s and love it. It never rains in Bishopstone and they love the sea views. ‘What more could you want?’ they say.

newhaven & seaford sailing club

newhaven & seaford sailing club

After omelettes, salad and a Fab ice lolly for the road, we stroll along the beach. The ecosystem is faintly reminiscent of Dungeness; with greens and pinks and purples lolling out through the scree. In the distance is the industrial silhouette of Newhaven harbour.

tide mills

tide mills

The Tide Mills site is only 10 minutes walk away, and there really is hardly anything there. Just some foundations, like pygmy Inca pillars, some rusty metal shapes and a muddy creek and derelict sluice from the old mill. And lots of dog walkers, but strangely and happily, no dog shit. There’s also a small cave where someone seems to have been sleeping rough. And a general feeling that this would be just the sort of place to stumble upon a corpse. We spend time wading in the mud and photographing dead crabs and punctured oil drums. Bits of twig bend over in the mud like misshapen figures in a Dali-esque landscape. Nhung feels uninspired but Tamsin likes it.

sleeping rough

sleeping rough

We decide to walk across the fields to Newhaven, passing a strange homemade sign saying Bongville, where we wait for ages for a train to approach so Nhung can get a photo of a loco steaming in. After a bit of countryside, we get to Newhaven Harbour and wander through deserted wastegrounds past the incinerator and a scrapheap, and still with murder in mind have a cheery conversation about all the people we know who have found dead bodies or been witnesses in murder cases. It’s very quiet around here…

untitled

untitled

But not as quiet and dead as Newhaven itself, which despite its fish festival is silent. We walk through a land of placid, grey warehouses, finishing at the station with its peeling, decaying houses, their paint flaking off like ogre’s dandruff. We plan to return to Newhaven again and we’d better make it soon. Tide Mills is lost, Newhaven isn’t yet, but it’s fading fast.

newhaven harbour

newhaven harbour

Lost

The whole destination, Tide Mills

Found

A body. Only joking.

tide mills

tide mills

Untitled

Untitled

We visited Newquay because we felt its seedy grot would be a better match for Nhung’s aesthetics than a pretty-pretty Cornish seaside resort. But no-one could love Newquay the town, muck-sprayed as it is with mediocre buildings, a thousand surf shops all selling the same bland sludgy-coloured clothes and “gentlemen’s clubs” that no real gentleman would go within 50 feet of.

is this boring?

is this boring?

Our friend Arash had kindly offered to drive us there, so we spent a pleasant journey singing along to “Sweetheart of the Rodeo” and swapping stories. We were tempted to drop in at “Gnome World” on the way, but resisted, arriving in Newquay in time for lunch. For lack of anywhere better, we had chip butties in the beer garden of the Red Lion pub, which for some reason overlooks the road instead of the sea. However, we were targeted by formation-shitting pigeons, so in the end we all had to sit in a row, facing the wall, grimly chomping on our soggy nachos.

Untitled

Untitled

So we had a wander through the town, but could barely stomach its crass tedium. I’ve never had much interest in surf culture, but fake surf culture is even worse. Beer-swilling, bawling cocks in hideous shorts jostle for space along the narrow streets – these are the most pointless, loathsome people in the UK; sweaty, lumpen braggarts out for “a bit of fun”, at the expense of everybody else, destined to spend their middle-age as clones of their Daily Express buying parents, with every now and then, in their witless, bovine existences, a glimmer of suspicion that there are people out there who may be having real fun, and are no strangers to truth, beauty and art. But this sort of fun is a threat to Newquay Knob’s fragile sense of self, so in his world it must be stomped on and jeered at and spat on and befouled. Not that he’s aware of his motives – he’s just “having a laugh”. Haven’t you got a sense of humour?

Untitled

Untitled

Ahem, maybe veered off the subject there for a moment. In fact, one thing to note about Newquay is that nearly everybody in the town is young – and execrable as the stag party fuckwits are, they are I suppose at least providing jobs – and jobs and homes for young people are at a premium in Cornwall, decimated as it has been by self-centred, second-home owning scum, probably the parents of the aforementioned blaring fuckwits. OK, I’m ranting again, so we’d better leave the streets as soon as possible and head for the beach…and what a contrast, it’s glorious!

lets go surfing now...

let's go surfing now...

It’s huge; sweeping sands, playful sea, interesting caves, and within a minute the stench of the town is hurtled away. We clamber on the rocks, write “Lost Prom” in the sand and take snaps of surfers with man-boobs. We note that there are no emos here, though there are a type of maritime surfer/emo cross whom we christen “nemos”.

Untitled

Untitled

A sandcastle competition is taking place, with entries varying from a Gaudi-esque palace to a detailed sculpture of Spongebob Squarepants, all judged by a woman wearing a pair of rabbit ears. Nhung tries to photograph some of the entries but is hampered by something she terms the “paedo barrier”, designed to keep adults out of the way. The results are announced and the kids all joyfully kick and stamp their transitory artworks back into nothingness. For them, this is the highlight of the event.

Untitled

Untitled

We buy ice creams and continue our walk into the fishy-scented harbour area. We consider a day trip with a “1 hour pleasure mackerel” but it’s time to leave, so we head back to the car and let Gram Parsons soothe away our sunburns. Later on seeing, some of Nhung’s photos of Newquay, we almost forget the squalor of the town – she has depicted a mysterious, magical place with not a fuckwit in sight. Art may be a search for truth, but truth is subjective and the camera lies. If only it was always so easy to erase the fuckwits from existence.

Untitled

Untitled

Lost
Layers of skin (due to unexpected sunburn)
Patience with stag party idiot culture

Found
First ice cream of the summer
Own way of seeing

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 72 other followers

Twitter

Visitors

  • 71,684 hits