This blog is dedicated to:
D.H., thank you for providing the inspiration;
M.B. for sharing your many (amusing) memories;
L.H. for getting me what I needed;
C.H. – trying to get you to recall events from the past is
like pulling teeth, but you continue to be my biggest fan.
Before writing this blog, I have had quite few idea thingies bopping and bouncing around in my brainy brain (fine, we all know this is an oxymoron), almost like a bunch of ingredients but no recipe. I now propose to see how the ingredients come together, and if the outcome is a delicious dish or food poisoning. Brace yourselves my loyal reader fans, brace yourselves….
Do you remember the summer vacations of yesteryear? The days when the family packed up the car and drove to a seaside town to escape from a hot and muggy city. Our parents would rent a little caravan or chalet, and there we would settle in for a week or two, and proceed to thoroughly enjoy ourselves. I find seaside towns tend to evoke a jumble of memories: the feel of clumpy wet sand built into sandcastles; the excitement of discovery when rock pooling; that satisfying crunch of freshly battered fish and chips; the heat of the sun during a fun game of beach cricket; the satisfaction of burying a sibling up to the neck in the sand; the sugary stickiness left over from candy floss; that coconutty smell of suntan lotion….
Have I also mentioned that in memories like these there are unicorns flying around and fairies sprinkling pixie dust?
Do you remember the summer vacations of yesteryear? The days when you sat in the family car, so eager to be at the seaside, but the car kept stopping – either because your carsick prone sibling needed to throw up (yet again), or because the car overheated and it needed to be manually cranked to start again. Our parents would rent a little caravan or chalet, sometimes smelling of Eau de Wet Dog, or Eau de Mould, or even Eau de Something Decomposing. There we would settle in for a week or two and try to enjoy ourselves to at least some extent. I find seaside towns tend to evoke a jumble of memories: listening to those piercing shrieks and that incessant whinging of some children who were (for whatever reason) not thoroughly enjoying themselves; the physical pain of tripping and falling on the promenade, coupled with having a broken heart because the ice cream cone fell as well; the disappointment of being dragged to some “Restaurant” because the parents wanted prawn cocktails in fancy glass and scallops on shells; the sugary stickiness of candy floss stuck in the hair; that smell of public toilets….
Have I also mentioned that in memories like these there are roaming orcs and goblins eager to substitute a child in place of the fish and along with the chips?
Whether they be of years ago or of last year, memories of seaside holidays are usually a mixed bag – rather like seaside towns, as some appear to be flourishing while others seem to be deteriorating.
The themes (or perhaps more aptly “the ingredients”) for this blog came from my colleague, who alerted me to an article on the BBC titled Seaside town reinvention ‘should start with Blackpool’, and from English Tourism Week (March 30 to April 7, 2019). Both of these topics made me reflect on the importance of our seaside towns, and the need to preserve and nurture not just our British seaside towns, but also their traditions.
One of my other colleagues was reminiscing about some holidays at the seaside when he was a child, and then what those holidays were like with his own children. He recalled “bumping into a fat lady” who turned out to be Fat Mabel, a photo cutout board who has remained a fixture of the seaside for years (and she does not seem to age – good for you Mabel!). He also told me about playing (or rather trying to cheat at) miniature golf with his sister, and then how he suddenly became a mini golf champ when he played the game with his son (not suspicious at all!).
Mini golf and photo cutout boards are just two of the many things/traditions we associate with the British seaside, and they are also our two businesses (Putterfingers is our portable miniature golf for those of you who have suddenly landed from outer space and are not yet in the loop). At both Photo Cutouts and Putterfingers we like to have fun, we like to make a bit of money whilst having fun, and we love it when other businesses can use our products to promote their business, all the while they are having fun and making that bit of money like we do. I would venture to say this could be called increasing economic growth, which is one of the recommendations from the report published by the House of Lords The future of seaside towns.
Now wait! One more thought ingredient to add to our bubbling cauldron before you begin to think I am some pontificating know-it-all. Our blogs (this one and the one for Putterfingers) are usually quite light-hearted and fun with interesting facts, a bit of history, some educational material, and usually a good sprinkling of quirkiness, and I certainly do not wish to depart from this, nor do I wish to even suggest I have a solution for the improvement of seaside towns (even though I am excellent at telling people what to do and I am always right). So there! I am not a pontificating know-it-all. Nevertheless, I will impart some parting words – rather like that final seasoning and fancy garnish that finishes the dish. If you have a chance to travel in the UK, whether it be a day trip or that summer holiday, perhaps decide to be one of the tourists that some of these seaside towns would welcome. Most of us have a chance to travel abroad, but sometimes the best holidays are those spent discovering the treasures that are in our own back garden.
If you are interested in more information about the future of seaside towns, here are some links:
(This link provides a synopsis of the report from the House of Lords along with a link to download the complete report in PDF.)
You might also wish to revisit a couple of our blogs from June 2016: British seaside culture is worth preserving, and Face-in-hole boards: a bit of history.
And, finally, check out some of the seaside-themed boards we have on standby, ready for your fun summer event (be it at the seaside or not)!
I do hope I have given you some food for thought. Until next time my darlings, toodle pip!