We have now returned from our annual trip to Swanage and for once it was a week of almost wall to wall sunshine with a deluge on Wednesday night/Thursday morning being the exception to the norm. The management of the campsite that we stay at is under threat, so sadly, this may be our last year at this venue which is perfect for large groups featuring noisy kids, pit fires and a lust for raucous boozy evening?s. The new owners (Rempstone Estates) are reviewing the running of the site in September, at present they rent out a field to large groups like us and basically give us a free reign for approximately a grand split between all the families. It may well be the case in the future that they wish to make the field into individual pitches which would mean the end of fires, Ipods, noisy kids and late night boozing. In a nutshell, it would no longer be worth the visit, not that we would be welcome anyway.
Swanage bay in all its glory
Every time I drive from the Ullwell road down in to Swanage a feeling of warmth and happiness engulfs me, I just love the place. Despite only being seventy odd miles away, it feels much further as the chain ferry crossing makes you feel you are on a little holiday island miles away from televisions, computers and all the stress of everyday life?. The region around Swanage is even called the Isle of Purbeck, it is of course, not an Island at all, it just feels like one.
Everywhere you look in Swanage during carnival week there is naffness, be it the carnival procession, the funfair, the arcades or the tat shops it is everywhere you look, they even had Timmy Mallett opening the fireworks for God’s sake. However, as opposed to grim seaside towns like Clacton or Blackpool, Swanage somehow works, probably because of the beautiful beaches and surrounding Purbeck countryside that, let’s face it, you just don’t get on the Lancashire and Essex coastlines. The Swanage town council also has to commended for the clean streets, tidy shop fronts and well kept greens, beach huts and gardens overlooking the bay.
Most of our days were spent doing quintessentially English seaside things like reading newspapers, drinking coffee and eating chips and ice cream whilst the children happily frolicked in the sea for hours on end all comfortable in each others company. We would then return to base where the kids would run riot for another hour or so on the campsite before crashing in to exhausted sleep after another day without DS games, Playstations, computers or televisions. How wonderfully simplistic life can be without the electronic contraptions forced on to us, I am increasingly convinced that in many cases modern technology stunts rather than enhances a child’s social development.
All the kids (I think)
During the evening it became the parents time to let their hair down and get drunk to varying levels. Being an eclectic bunch, the fireside conversations were often entertaining, funny, topical and political, mostly however, they were incoherent nonsense fuelled by wine or vodka, but fun all the same. The only time things threatened to turn ugly I wasn’t there, so I sit here in the unique position of not upsetting anyone after a week in their company, something of a disappointment for someone who relishes in the perverse pleasure of being named chief cunt amongst his fellow campers. This year I left it to Nick to lob some hand grenades in to the great NHS and state/private education debate that can end friendships quicker than you can say Margaret Thatcher. Fortunately it would appear everyone was so pissed they had all forgotten who upset who, so there was no long term harm done.
So that’s it, Swanage is over for another year and as I sit here looking over the grey skies of Basingstoke before preparing to go to the first football match of the new season at Reading, it feels like summer is over for another year too. One of my fellow campers, Nick, is a Southampton fan who spent the whole week going on about how excited he was about the new football season, I’m not, I am only going for my son’s sake, I can watch it all winter, right up until next May in fact. Today is the 6th August, people should be watching cricket not football, it is ridiculous. What makes it worse is that Reading play Millwall today, so rather than lazing on a sunny beach like last Saturday I am going to be subjected to a bunch of East end neanderthals singing “No one likes us we don’t care” for ninety minutes.