My boyfriend and I love going on trips, so moving to Norwich has given us the opportunity to explore a brand new corner of Britain. Although we've been here for two months, bad weather, visiting family and bee stings (thankfully not a bad one) have prevented us from getting in the car and taking a drive to one of the several places I have on my East Anglia bucket list.
Today we managed to get to Great Yarmouth. You've all heard of or visited those faded seaside towns from when, to the British, a holiday meant staying in a caravan park in a touristey seaside town and whiling away a few days eating fish and chips, ice cream and candy floss, making sand castles and throwing 2 pence pieces into slot machines. Sadly for these resorts, many Brits can now afford holidays that require a plane ride, so the money just isn't going into them the way they used to. The peeling paint and buildings in disrepair leave me feeling very nostalgic, not just because it's sad to see them going downhill, but because these places take me back to a brightly coloured childhood.
For my parents' generation, these resorts were still holiday destinations. By the time I came along, they were more day trip material with my grandparents. It was probably a trip down memory lane for them too. New Brighton just across from Liverpool was the main one, with trips to the fair and chips with salt and vinegar, and further afield was Blackpool, Southport and Rhyl in North Wales. These day trips were some of the highlights of my youngest years, before we moved to Spain. These towns are the epitome, in my mind, of true Britishness.
By my teens, I began to notice the decline of these places. Some of them are lucky enough to be rescued or have found money from other sources. Others are not so lucky. There is evidence of this in patched up architecture, missing signs and paint in desperate need of a touch up. But the best thing about these places is that they just keep on going. Donkey rides on the beach, ice cream vans, the arcades luring you in with their distorted music and constant clink of coins...
But it was a good day. The sun was out to begin with (before, in true British style, the sky clouded over), my hair was blown into a bird's nest and my skin whipped into goosepimples, and the best thing? We stopped for proper chippie chips on the sea front. And because I'm Northern, I had to have gravy.
It wasn't how I usually like to spend my Sundays, but it was a refreshing break from the norm. I missed my parents, I missed my grandparents and I missed childhood, but in that perfect, bittersweet way. Those good old British seaside towns might fade, but my memories won't. I hope they keep going a little longer.
Happy Sunday :)