Editor’s Note; This post is in conjunction with the Avis A-List Awards 2013. I was asked to write a travel-related post, and my first idea was that it would be on our trip to Australia in 2007. But a sunny, enjoyable, well-planned holiday doesn’t sound very LWAT, does it? So I decided to go with another set of trips from the same year. Australia comes into it near the beginning but…well, you’ll see. In case you don’t realise/can’t do the maths this is before we had kids….
In 2007, we suffered from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or what I like to call O.C-side.D.Or maybe Obseaside Compulsive Disorder. Enough! We had clearly read a few too many of those Dave Gorman/Tony Hawks/Danny Wallace books that seem to think that what Danny Wallace’s girlfriend calls “stupid boy projects” are really fun! And they are. Setting yourself a reasonable aim like going to the seaside once a month is both fun and educational. And only occasionally terrifying (yes, Sheerness, I’m talking about you)
You may notice a recurrence of the name “Varnia” throughout our travels. Varnia was a conspirator in the madness. She is the best kind of friend to have on these adventures …she is spontaneous, enthusiastic and quite blindingly naïve. Plus, she totally perfected the art of the Car Snack. She earned her seaside-ing stripes by hopping the half-mile to the beach at Herne Bay in January with a broken pelvis. So, largely out of pity, we let her tag along for the rest of the year. She moved back to Melbourne the following year, apparently unrelated to the horror that was our trip to Sheppey.
Like so many years, January was where it all started. We went on a church weekend away to Herne Bay in Kent and – between train trips back to Bromley – I went on a stroll to the beach. I say “I” because Nathan was having a nap at the time. Little did he know that this would become a year-long obsession, otherwise he might have made the effort. Just like Varnia did, even with a broken pelvis. Now, there’s dedication to the seaside cause. At the time, it didn’t seem like a big deal…just a wander to the beach, that’s all.
And then next month, we went to Australia! That’s me, on the secluded beach at Rottnest Island, pretending that no-one was taking my photo. It was a good trip and included lots of time on the beach, including this paddle in the sea at St Kilda, Melbourne on the first day of March:
It was only in April that it suddenly hit us – we had been to the seaside every month this year! And wouldn’t it be fun to keep it up? Well, no but we didn’t know that then. At the time, we were sitting on the beach in Brighton, eating fish and chips with some antipodeans that we’d taken to the seaside as a kind of special Bank Holiday project. We thought that it would be like this all the time – friends, beer, rollercoasters, chips and sunshine:
Having made this resolution, we quickly found out it wasn’t easy to keep it up. May started with the announcement that the company I worked for was closing and the hi-jinks just continued from there! Hi-jinks like deciding to put the house on the market and spending the Bank Holiday redoing the bathroom. Luckily, with days to spare I was called down to Brighton to cover the shop there:
A severe “Must try harder” for our efforts so far meant that we actually planned – yes PLANNED!- the June trip. We road-tripped down to Winchester with Varns and from there took a ferry to the Isle of Wight. We saw tigers and went on giant slides and visited the garlic farm. It was truly awesome and made us think that maybe we should plan things like this more often.
So, of course we didn’t get round to planning anything for July. July 31st saw us making a last-minute dash to the fake beach at the O2 Arena, which we hopped onto long enough to take photos before going home. It wasn’t particularly impressive, particularly as July really should be a good month for beach trips. But August would be better, right?
Wrong! This will probably go down as one of my greatest ever misguided ideas. Need a beach trip for August? Yes! Got any time? No! Hmm…let’s go somewhere in Kent that’s really close to London and we can go after work on a Saturday night. That kind of reasoning makes you end up on the Isle of Sheppey. At carnival time. In the rain. Not an experience I would want to repeat and Varnia was so scared she decided to leave the country for ever. No, really.
September was a busy month for us. I started the month with a new job and we finished it by moving out of our flat with nowhere to go to. Not the ideal conditions for swanning off on beach trips. Which is our excuse for this extreme low point in terms of effort – a trip to “King Neptune’s beach” at Thorpe Park while there for our friend Lottie’s birthday. Nathan’s “wet llama” look here shows the extent to which we were committed to recreating the seaside experience within the confines of Thorpe Park. If you stand by the log flume, it’s just like feeling the gentle sea spray on your face. Apparently.
October was triumphant – both spontaneous and very cool. Hoping to take our minds off our extreme homelessness, Varns suggested a magical mystery tour. So we took some friends along for the ride and went to Rye and Camber Sands. We had a run along the beach and beach boules before getting a bit freaked out by spooky Dungeness. What happened in Reading the next day is probably best confined to the Vault of Bad Memories.
November was generally a Happy Month, which Novembers rarely are. It was mainly happy because we moved into New House. Hooray! But before we could do that, we spent a stressful Friday trying and failing to exchange contracts and so were in the kind of mood where you a) go to the pub and drink whiskey, b) go to Primark and buy lots of clothes, c) go to Southend with a bloke called Dave you’ve only just met. The end result was a night-time trip to the beach while wearing a suit, followed by a groggy trip back to London the next morning, just in time for my uncle’s 60th birthday.
But that wasn’t all for November! Because faithful Varns had planned a proper beach trip for us too. It was an excruciatingly cold weekend in Weymouth, where we wore every piece of clothing we had, and drank warm wine in our B&B room but we had fun. There was coffee and fudge in Lyme Regis, and beer in Beer, along with pirate-themed crazy golf. It was the coldest weekend away I’ve ever had (look at Varnia and Nathan huddling for warmth), but it was fun.
And then it was just a matter of finishing the year in style. Or in Bournemouth. We were in Hampshire for Christmas anyway, so just nipped down to Dorset for a token trip to the beach. Again, it was pretty cold. But we ended the year with a sense of achievement. And a car full of sand and Car Snack crumbs…
This article has been written to recognise the author’s contribution to travel and tourism by Avis Car Hire on the A-List Awards 2013.