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Beside the seaside

A couple of weekends ago we were down in Kent visiting relatives. Saturday saw us taking in Canterbury and Whitstable, while on Sunday the weather seemed perfect for a trip to the seaside.

The car park for Dymchurch beach, located slap-bang next to a Martello tower, was full up, with people trying all sorts of innovative ways to leave their cars without blatantly box anyone in. Everyone paid at the meter, though (we lucked out as someone was leaving as we turned up).

The Martello tower serves as a reminder of the various anti-invasion schemes that have left their mark on the Kentish coast, which is littered with reminders of the past. Nearby Hythe is one of the old Cinque Ports, the Royal Military Canal passes through these parts and in addition to the Martello towers, of which there are several, Dymchurch has a redoubt that was built during the Napoleonic Wars but was later used in both World Wars (even today, it’s still owned by the MOD).

Defence these days is more a question of sea-defences, and Dymchurch’s sea wall is are brand new. The town itself is a mixture of pubs, beach-themed newsagents and fish-and-chip shops which we decided not to trouble ourselves with – being on the beach was the priority here.

On the beach, the holiday-makers who’d crammed into the car park were more spread out. Sandcastle-making and beach cricket are as popular as they were when I was a kid, I was pleased to note. And we weren’t the only ones with folding chairs and a tartan car-rug.

Several people had decided to top-up the sunburns they’d obviously been working on the previous day, and while doing so they happily showed off their rather dubious-looking tattoos. The best (or worst) was the man who had the word ‘LOSER’ tattooed across his stomach. People can be very strange sometimes.

I continued my habit of swimming in any available body of water with a dip in the English Channel. After a couple of hours, the tide started to come in. We retreated back to the car and decided to see what Hythe had to offer.

Well, the shingle beach was certainly a lot quieter, with kayaking and sea-fishing being the activities of choice. We walked along the prom in the sun, wondering about what it would be like to live in one of those houses that overlooks the beach and seeing how the sea-fishers were doing. We considered getting something from an espresso-stand operating out of the back of an Ape van, but thanks to the weather we opted for some ice cream instead.

All is well at the English seaside. And yes, I do like to be beside it.

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