Oh I Do Like To Be… Ten Quintessential Things About British Seasides
Published: Wednesday 5th Feb 2014
Written by: Tracy Guymer-Davies
The British seaside holiday is an institution. Generations have grown up making the annual pilgrimage to the coast, for a week of rest and recuperation, fun and sun. Like any other tradition though, there must be certain elements there to count as a true seaside holiday. Here is our top ten.
British piers come in many shapes and sizes, but in essence they are large wooden platforms stretching out to sea. Who can forget the thrill as a child of peering between the boards and seeing the rushing sea underneath you? Full of stalls, attractions and places to eat, piers are still very much part of the seaside holiday: head to Southwold, Cromer or Brighton for some fine examples.
While they’re not as common as they used to be, there are still enough places offering donkey rides in the country to be able to easily spot these patient animals as they plod along the beach with a happy child on their back in places like Scarborough, Camber, and Minehead.
Is there anything that says beach more than an ice-cream? Even the most remote beaches in the UK usually have an ice-cream stand somewhere nearby. And gone are the days when you had a choice of vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry, now it seems the only restriction is your imagination. The magnificent Morelli’s in Broadstairs is an ice-cream emporium, selling artisan ice-cream such as Papaya and Thyme, while Verdi’s in Swansea has a whopping range of over 30 different flavours to tempt you with.
Candy striped beach huts have been part of the seafront for centuries and their popularity shows no sign of waning, with long waiting lists and sky-high prices. Some of the best examples are in Littlehampton and Wells-Next-Sea.
The staple of any good sketch show from the 1970s, once these striped pieces of canvas and wood are assembled correctly, they are ridiculously comfortable. A wonderful place to spend a relaxing afternoon in the sun, listening to the sound of the sea.
Nothing represents the seaside arcade more than a 2p slot machine, especially the coin pushers. The gravity-defying copper discs just cry out for just one more coin to nudge them over the edge, and then one more, and then one more …
Bucket and Spade
The humble bucket and spade are as much a part of the seaside as the sea itself. Essentially just two bits of plastic (and wood if you’re posh), these two items have entertained children at the beach for generations.
Fish and Chips
When it comes to a meal at the seaside, there is no competition; it has to be fish and chips. Usually cod or haddock, (though other tasty options are becoming more common), and served in paper, polystyrene, or even on a plate, there’s something about being at the seaside that makes them taste even better. The title of best Fish and Chips is hotly contested, but Whitby, Aldeburgh and Ilfracombe are regulars on the shortlists.
When you approach the seaside you know you’re getting near when you can hear the plaintive cry of the gulls in the air. These white winged coast dwellers are the unofficial emblem of the seaside.
The stick of rock is a peculiarly British icon and has been around since the nineteenth century. Traditionally a pink colour with the famous lettering through the centre, it’s a piece of the seaside you can take home with you.