As August Fades

Beach, Beach Chair, Feet, Female

Image by Pexels from Pixabay 

The very first leaves had begun to turn red.  It wasn’t like the entire tree had turned either.  Just an impatient few crimson raced to welcome September before August had run its course.  It was a sign, however, understood by a few of the more observant children, but known all too well by teachers.  School days were about to return, and at this very edge of summer, every moment relaxation and calm was to be treasured.

The weather was still warm, and the sky mostly clear with only a few clouds to cast shade.  The beach beckoned.  The water was still pleasant, and the sands inviting.  So off the couple went to the coast in search of some quality time before lesson plans and homework marking intervened.

Parking wasn’t easy to find, and it took a few passes along the Marine Parade to find an appropriate spot.  The metre paid, and the towels gathered they made their way to the promenade.   Sand-covered children darted to and fro amongst the wind-breaks and parasols.  For the moment, a seat upon a sea facing bench seemed the thing to do.

He went to the kiosk and bought a couple of Whippy cones with Flakes, and returned to the bench.  Sun upon their faces, they enjoyed the creamy delight, as they watched the swooping of the gulls.  As she cuddled in next to him all was bliss, say for the inescapable dread of this tranquility being broken by the awful greeting, “Hello Sir.”  Fortunately, the salutation was avoided on this occasion, and ice creams finished, the couple made their way to the sand.

Just chilling, and living in each other’s presence, the day passed lazily and with a cool sea breeze rising, they left their beach haven and made their way to a fish and chips shop.   A battered cod for him, and scampi for her, they picked at a few chips shared as well.

As the sun dipped landward to the West, they remarked on the wonderful day, and the possibility of an Indian summer in which they might make just one more visit before autumn truly arrived.

 

Padre

Tuesday Writing Prompt Challenge August 20, 2019:  Use the phrase “edge of summer” in a poem or short piece of prose.

A Day at Aldeburgh Beach

imageedit_1_3303335569 (1).jpg

The Scallop

We spent a lovely summer day at Aldeburgh Beach in Suffolk. This coastal town in known as the home of the composer Benjamin Britten (see post on The Red House).

Parking on the Thorpeness side of town was easy in a public “pay and display” car park directly opposite The Scallop. The fee was fair at £2.30 for a four hour stay.  Be aware however that blue badge disabled drivers need to pay this as well.

The beach is gravel/pebble but still popular for those laying out in the sun.  There is a hard path that runs between Aldeburgh and Thorpeness and is suitable for wheelchairs, pushchairs (strollers), and bicycles.

imageedit__3393222551 (1).jpg

Verge of Beach toward Thorpeness

The point of attraction (apart from the beach itself) is the public sculpture known as The Scallop. This 4 metre high metallic sea shell statue is the work of artist Maggi Hambling, and is a tribute to Benjamin Britten.  It is much photographed, and kids on the beach seem to enjoy climbing on it, or pouring gravel down its metal face to make the loud clanging sound as it flows down the surface. The piece bears the words, “I hear those voices that will not be drowned” along an outer edge.  It is a fitting seaside image, and thought.

There are several benches along the paved path, and they offer a good view of the sculpture, and of the beach. Sea views are better from the small dunes, or gravel beach, however.  We sat on a bench and just enjoyed the July sunshine, the cries of the gulls, and a cool breeze on our faces.

imageedit_2_8359179932 (2).jpg

Regatta’s Mermaid

We finished our day by going into the town for a pot of tea and a shared cheese board. We went to the Regatta restaurant, and found it welcoming, high quality, and relaxing. The seaside motifs are evident in the decor, and a very nice mural (including a mermaid) adorn one wall. The service was excellent and attentive. The pot of tea was very  very generous in portion, and the selection of cheeses was outstanding.  While we were only in for a light snack before journeying home, we did see some wonderful dishes served to others. A sole dish with samphire looked especially inviting.  The menu also had a croissant bread pudding with prunes and a caramel sauce which seems amazing.

imageedit_3_6505169771 (1)

Cheese and Tea

We had a lovely day, and this little town still hold much more to explore such as a bean to bar chocolatier, and a fish shop which had a huge queue owing to its popularity.  I, like Arnie, “will be back.”

Padre

 

 

Bank Holiday at Gorleston-on-Sea

imageedit_5_9880422543 (1)

Pavilion 

One of our favourite seaside getaways is Gorleston-on-Sea near Great Yarmouth.  This beach area lacks much of the commercial “by the sea” build up of the “Golden Mile” but is close enough to visit Yarmouth’s piers and arcades, miniature golf, and the like. As this past weekend was a bank holiday, three day affair, we made our way to the sea.

What Gorleston does offer is a first class sandy beach, which has a level access and free parking, as well as some really nice small arcades, chip shops, and hotels. We visited the beach and cliffs over the bank Holiday weekend. The beach area nearest the car park was wonderful with warm golden sand. This extended down to the lifeguard station. Beyond that (station to sea) was a little more stony, however. The beach itself though was wonderful to relax on. The promenade between the car park and beach has loads of seating, and the ice creams are readily available for the beach experience.

Dimascio’s Ice Cream is a favourite of ours. We have stopped in when ever in town, and even in the off-season the selection and quality are superb. In the past, I have had very nice waffle cones with such flavours as hazelnut, maple/walnut and strawberry cheese cake while my wife has had coconut (very nice), chocolate and cherry with a flake. The quality is excellent, the flavours rich, and the texture creamy. On our bank holiday visit we stuck with soft serve portions with chopped nuts and flake.

Gorleston also has a cliff area which offers some great views, and a promenade which links the lower beach areas and the cliffs. We parked up in the cliff car park and watched the waves, seagulls, and the passers-by. We enjoyed our ice cream, and the super warm May Monday.

imageedit_7_6018539257 (1)

Carvery

We had dinner at Captain Manby (Toby Carvery) just out of the town on the bypass. My wife and I have made several trips here over the past few years and the experience is always consistently good. The cleanliness is always impressive, and the food always good (unlike some Toby outlets). My wife had a turkey and roast beef carvery, and I as usual the meat-free. Hers was moist and tasty, and the veg portions for both of us were good. The Yorkshires were large, and the roast potatoes crisp outside without being over-cooked inside. I am still impressed with the “bottomless” Pepsi offer, and enjoyed experimenting with the syrups (vanilla, strawberry, and lime).

imageedit_4_8992596369 (1)

Early Morning View from Cliff Hotel

While we didn’t visit on this occasion, another of our choice stops is the Cliff Hotel.  We have stayed here a few times, and its bar and restaurant are first rate, and the there is a terrace which offers a great view of the sea, while enjoying a cuppa, or a light meal.

Padre

 

Visiting Sunny Hunny

imageedit_1_2355279240 (1)

Sunset over the Wash

Living in East Anglia, it is relatively easy for us to visit the seaside.  One of our favourite day trips is to Hunstanton on the North Norfolk coast on the Wash.  Hunny has a fairly easy access to the beach, and their is a good sized promenade, and all of the usual “seaside” attractions such as penny arcades, ice cream shops, and chippies.

The best sandy beach section is on the east of the town in “Old Hunstanton.”  In the spring and summer months it is very busy, but we still had room to lay out a blanket and enjoy the sunshine. We parked at the Lighthouse Car Park (£3.50 for 3 hours) and took the short walk down to the beach below the low point of the cliffs. There are a few grassy dunes, but it is mostly sand, and there was a good atmosphere, though with loads of children and dogs it couldn’t exactly be called peaceful. It was nice just to set in the sun and watch life and the sea go by. Note there is no life guard in this section of beach, but there does seem to be beach patrols by the Coast Guards. Toilets and cafe are back up at the car park, and the walk is a little steep down to the beach, but still doable even with limited mobility. There was at least one wheel chair, and several babies’ pushchairs on the beach if that gives a feel for its accessibility.

imageedit_11_9737910501 (1)

Old Hunstanton beach

The beach area near the sailing club is little to the west of light house.  This area also has pay and display parking, and there is a seawall to negotiate to get to a cobbled beach portion.  Many people seem to use this area for wind surfing, and other similar activities.

imageedit_9_3362268149 (1)

Beach Beneath the Cliffs

Further to the west still (near the town centre) is the main promenade.  There is beach beneath it as well, and this area also has easy access to several arcades, and snack venues.

imageedit_4_5713561419 (1)

Beach and Promenade

Above the beach front there are cliffs to the east, and the town westward.  The cliff areas give good views of the Wash, and as it is on-road parking there are no parking fees.  This grassy expanse is used by hikers and dog walkers and there are several benches and pavilions to rest, and just watch the sea.

The town above the promenade has a lot to offer.  There is a quality fish shop, the aforementioned arcades, and some nice sweets and ice cream venues.

imageedit_13_9177592333 (1)

Fishers Fish and Chips

We have eaten at/from Fishers of several occasions on our visits to Hunstanton. These  have been take away meals from the “chippy” side of the house, and from the “dine in” restaurant.

The dining room is rather spacious and goes much deeper of the street than one might first imagine. The tables are somewhat close together, but no claustrophobically so. The decor is simple, but really sets a flavour. The large mirrors with the shop logo, and fish and chip references are well in keeping with a seafood restaurant atmosphere.

The service was attentive and very professional. Orders and drinks were very quickly done, though food service was a little delayed, but not enough to downgrade the restaurant for service.

The food was well presented, tasty, and massive in portion. My wife had haddock and chips, and I had a jacket potato. This proved too much for us. I had 1/3rd of her fish and her mushy peas, and my potato with baked beans, and was totally full. She had her 2/3rd portion of fish, and 1/2 her chips, and we still left loads of chips behind.

imageedit_12_6040351800 (1)

Candy ‘N’ Cream sweet and ice cream shop is convenient to the car park by the information centre, and is next door to Fisher’s fish shop. We have had good experiences with the Pavilion Ice Cream Parlour (also in Hunny), but found parking closer to Candy ‘N’ Cream, so gave it a try. I am glad we did.

The shop is a traditional sweets shop with loads of variety, but they also serve some really good quality take-away ice cream. The shop lacks the fancy options of its neighbour down the hill, but the ice cream itself is in my opinion better. We had a nice strawberry which was very fruity, a banoffee scoop which was really well balanced and not sickly sweet, and a rich caramel/toffee scoop.

This bright pink building looks like a sweetie itself, and the entire “kid in a candy shop” experience is there. It is not a sit down for a sundae venue, so it all down to what you are after.

For true foodies there is also a very high quality deli up the hill from Fishers and Candy ‘N’ Cream. The Norfolk Deli a treasure trove of treats. There was a wonderful selection of gluten free and local goods, and the cooked meats and cheeses were top quality. We got some pastrami that was a good as any found in New York delis. There was also an assortment of olives and on every shelf there was a yummy surprise to be found. The service was friendly, and it was a really great experience to add to a beach visit.

Slightly to the west again, there is a Sea Life Centre and a public swimming pool.  Again note, that all the parking in the main car parks is pay and display.

As the journey across town takes you closer to King’s Lynn end, you will find Big G’s.  This venue has a wonderful concept for a seaside restaurant. It is not alone in the world of pizzerias in offering an all you can eat buffet, but in decor, location, and customer service it really works as an alternative to the fish and chips and ice cream of many a beach visit.

Decor: The dining area is arranged with pastel coloured picnic table-style seating, with beach chalet type enclosures in what might traditionally been booth seating. Decoration is of the style found in beach side souvenir shops with the beach visit theme tied wonderfully together.

Location: Set on the landward side of the South Prom car park it is easily accessible, and convenient to both beach and town.

Service: My step-daughter and I received a friendly welcome, and were given clear guidance on the way the buffet worked, and we were checked on periodically to make sure it was continuing to be a good experience for us. We were even asked if there was any particular ingredients we wanted on the next pizza to be put onto the buffet. Wow, a personalised buffet offering.

The food was good, and with a salad, pasta, and pizza spread well in keeping with the pizza joint buffet genre. That said, the salad bar was limited with the iceberg lettuce, cherry tomatoes, sliced bell pepper, cucumber and beetroot standards. It made up for this by having homemade coleslaw and potato salad. The coleslaw was course chopped, and had purple cabbage making for a nice change from the thin shred mass produced stuff of a Pizza Hut. The real difference from the chain pizza places was the pies themselves. These are hand thrown, thin (Tuscan-style) based pizzas with a crisp texture. The toppings were tasty, and the cheese portions generous especially on the garlic and cheese “garlic bread” pizza. The pasta was fairly average, and the cheese sauce very thick but lacking a bit of “umph.” That said the pasta is way overcompensated for with the pizza and coleslaw.

The value for money is very good, and with Pepsi brand drinks on all you can drink tap, a bargain for a beach outing.

imageedit_1_2355279240 (1)

Hunstanton is one of the only places on the east coast of the UK where you can watch the sunset into the sea. It is an anomaly of the geography that the Wash provides a westward view over the ocean.  It is a great way to end a day at the seaside.  Hunny is a great place to relax, enjoy, and explore.

Padre