Monday, June 07, 2010

Monday, 7th June

Ferry going into Newhaven

The time is1350 and ‘Ladybird’ remains at Brighton Marina. During my walk along the seafront this morning I only observed one yacht heading to the SW, and the reason for this was obvious, because the Force 2 to 3 wind was from that direction. Furthermore, rain was forecast for late afternoon. The distance to Chichester via the shortest distance is 35 nautical miles; that is at least a 12 hour trip, but more likely to be 15 hours, which is very similar to the time it takes to get from Dover to Brighton.

For the above reasons I’m pleased I did not put to sea at the usual time after the early Shipping Forecast, and as things worked out, I had a very enjoyable morning. I have walked the promenade many times before on previous visits, but this time I was determined to have a fresh look for the things I had missed. At the start of my walk, somehow I became ‘trapped’ in a maze of multi-storey car parks and emerged into the light of day to find myself wandering along a narrow walled path that led towards the Naturalist Beach. Some sort of high boarding on the left-hand side was covered with highly coloured graffiti done by skilled street artists. I’m sure I couldn’t do nearly as well with spray paint.

By the Volks Electric Railway which runs parallel with the beach, I noticed a fenced-off area where there was a man whose skin resembled the appearance of nutmeg. He was attending to a small fibreglass beach boat. This warranted a chat, so I asked him if he would like me to give him a hand to launch his boat. He replied that he was painting the vessel. A closer inspection revealed Egyptian style paintings all over the interior. He was about to add another figure. I mentioned that years ago this part of the pebbly beach was covered with similar netted enclosures where beach fishermen stored their boats and equipment. He had been fishing off the beach for 15 years and over that time all the other fisherman had given up or had taken their boats to the Marina.

The Pier is an amazing place. This morning a good number of people were enjoying the entertainments: I noticed the Horror Hotel, the Dodgems, the Flume, the Turbo Coaster and the Booster. The Turbo Coaster resembles a two-bladed aeroplane propeller, but at the tips there are seats equipped with restrainers to prevent the occupants from being flung into outer space! All sorts of snacks and confectionary can be bought from kiosks which are either side of two arcades, things like hotdogs, waffles, shellfish, candy floss, and ice creams. I noticed two shops selling Brighton rock. You wouldn’t expect to find a water flume at the end of the pier, but there’s one there with warning signs reminding people not to wear any kind of hat, presumably because they could be blown off a person’s head into the moving water.

Observing people is half the fun when visiting places like the Pier. There were several groups of young people, who were trying their luck at the slot machines. Not one of them won any money while I looked on. A girl risked walking on the wooden slatted floor with extraordinarily high heeled shoes. Somehow she managed not to get the heels caught between the slats. Variety Club Assistants were looking after disabled children who seemed unable to have any response to what was going on around them. Pushed in wheelchairs they were stationary beings like inanimate objects, but that was only the outward appearance. Inside, I expect their hearts were pounding, and they were joyful to be out in the fresh air and sunshine. Observations such as that make me realize how fortunate I have been with my health for the last seventy plus years.

I didn’t try the talking telescope, taste a waffle, down a hotdog or risk dipping my toes into the sea. On my way back to the Marina I kept clear of the skateboarders, the blade-skaters, the runners, and the cyclists. A lifeguard with his surfboard was trying to keep warm by repositioning his windbreak. The sound of pebbles as the breakers moved them, made rhythmic, almost soporific pulses, causing me to yawn and I realised I had on average had less than six hours sleep for the past five days. The temptation was to return to the yacht for an afternoon snooze. Instead I found the energy and inspiration to type this, but now I‘m going to lay down for a while.

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