There are a few things in life that I can always rely on to happen. One of these is that when I ask someone for directions and they tell me the way to my destination and say “you can’t miss it”, I always miss it. Even when it is a substantial skyscraper that towers over the city like the eye of Sauron watching over Mordor. Another one of these things is that no matter how miserable I’m feeling, a trip to the seaside on a sunny day will always cheer me up. I would like to get all poetic and talk about the sunlight glinting off the water and the smell of the fresh sea air but in all honesty it’s the easy availability of ice cream, fudge and shops with crap souvenirs that floats my boat. The truth is though that I love nearly everything about the seaside, with the possible exception of paying a weeks salary to park. I was lucky enough to spend the weekend at the seaside and fortunate enough to have had the best weather of the year so far and I feel brighter than I have for months (I look brighter too due to a receding hairline and the resulting sun burnt forehead).
I’ve been to a number of seaside resort towns in the UK and the US and apart from the obvious (a beach) they have many things in common; numerous ways to put on weight relatively inexpensively (ice cream and hot dogs in the US, ice cream and fish and chips in the UK), not enough places to park, seafood, shops that sell things to use on the beach that will invariably break by the end of the day and elderly people who are still wearing winter clothing even in July. There are also differences; British seaside towns prospered in the Victorian period and many of them retain the Victorian architecture but not the prosperity. Resort towns on the other side of the Atlantic are newer and brasher and well, basically more American. If you have ever been to a Victorian resort in the UK on a rainy day you will know why Morrissey penned the lyrics:
Trudging slowly over wet sand
Back to the bench where your clothes were stolen
This is the coastal town
That they forgot to close down
Armageddon – come Armageddon!
Come, Armageddon! Come!
The beach that we went to on Saturday was beautiful, right at the end of Cape Cod and because getting to it required a degree of exercise we had it to ourselves. The beach was apparently quite famous for sightings of whales from the shore and there was a warning about great white sharks being in the area. I wasn’t worried about sharks, however, because once you have been to a British seaside resort and dared to eat food outside you face a danger far greater; the seagull. Anyone who has sat on a picnic bench and watched the circle of gulls get closer and closer, or has been dive bombed from above while enjoying some chips will tell you that sharks are tame by comparison. The bastards even steal fudge; in 2013 I was relieved of my fudge from above and the gull that did it cut my finger open in the process. The American gulls that I have encountered so far are shy and retiring in comparison.
Another difference between the US and the UK is that the holiday season starts a lot later in the US, meaning that the town we stayed in was very quiet and we had the beaches almost to ourselves. It also meant that I almost wet myself because all of the public toilets were closed until May but swings and roundabouts hey? I find myself missing the beautiful beaches of Devon (my home county in the UK) but having Cape Cod just an hour away is a pretty decent consolation. If you haven’t yet visited Cape Cod then I would definitely recommend a visit, the place is absolutely beautiful. What is your favourite seaside town?