Coast poster by Angie Lewin Dungeness poster by Andy Tuohy

Coast magazine are running a seaside poster auction in aid of the Marine Conservation Society. There are seven original posters to bid on, including beautiful pieces of work from Angie Lewin, Andy Tuohy, Rob Ryan and Wayne and Gerardine Hemingway. See them all on ebay and get in before 16 May if you fancy your chances.

Hastings red shelter

Regular readers will know that I'm slightly obsessed by seaside shelters. I like the way they typify the character of a seaside resort. By checking out the local ones you can tell when a resort had its heyday and how popular it was. A big one is the mark of true popularity, but a little one is just as special.

Hastings white shelter

So, I can report that Hastings scores highly on the seaside shelter front. These lovelies were the product of Sidney Little, "The Concrete King" who was responsible for turning Hastings and St Leonards into a Modern town in the 1930s.

Another Hastings shelter

Artist Andy Tuohy has some lovely prints of these shelters, available on his website.

tern-project.jpg

I meant to report back on the non-Midland bits of Morecambe, because they were good. Of all the seaside towns, in all the world (that we've visited) Morecambe feels like it has fallen the furthest. We've been a few times over the years and the good bits have been outweighed by the general sense of gloom and decay. But this time it felt different. Just a bit brighter, more bustling. There were still lots of boarded up shops (true everywhere at the moment) but there were lots of good things too. Such as:

  • The Tern Project and associated seaside sculptures including Eric Morecambe. A photo here is obligatory.
  • Brucciani's Cafe - going strong since the 1930s.
  • The Old Pier Bookshop - amazing Black Books-style bookshop. More on this at Nothing To See Here.
  • Breeze - a modern cafe in the West end near The Battery - their cakes looked amazing and the smoothies were really good. There's a decent playpark near here too. It's a nice walk from the Midland and on the way back you can go to...
  • The antiques market in the Alhambra - a good tip from Kate. This is a huge shed of a place full of antiques. The quality is good enough to be worth searching through, and cheap enough to feel like you might get a bargain.
  • The Polo Tower - it's not working (no sign of the Polo) but at least it's still standing. The state of it spawned a few "Far from mint condition" jibes and a call from the local councillor to boycott Polos.. It's had a clean since then.

And some bits we missed:

  • The Winter Gardens - Kate and Sonja (of the Snapshot Museum which is inside) assured me that these are beautiful. They're open sometimes at weekends, raising funds for a full restoration. The future looked very shaky for them a while ago so it's great that work is ongoing.
  • And last but not least, Sunset Ices - Kate's fantastic 1950s ice cream van which is stationed outside the Midland when the weather gets a wee bit brighter. Stop her and buy one!

Nardini's Cafe - vignette

We went to the newly reopened Nardini's today. It's looking fine. For anyone that wasn't treated to a trip there in their childhood (you poor mites), Nardini's is an amazing Italian cafe in Largs on the west coast of Scotland. Due to some family feud or other, it's been closed for years (there are warring factions of Nardinis and yes, Daniela is a relation).

Nardini's, Largs

It's in a really public spot on the Esplanade and was a bit of an eyesore. We peeked through the hoardings a few times - it was completely gutted inside which was heartbreaking as it's a big place and was full of art deco grandeur. So, finally it's back, looking very well, dispensing ice cream sundaes to locals and daytrippers. Like a little bit of the world has been put to rights.

vacancies

Photographic cataloguing of Britain's seaside continues in the Beside the Seaside Flickr pool, which I'm minding for the National Maritime Museum while their Beside the Seaside exhibition is on. There is some lovely stuff in there, like Vacancies by a free hour, above. Various Christmas and New Year swims (including a special Oliver Postgate tribute) have provided some really great shots, and who knew that the sea would freeze. I thought it would be quiet at the seaside in winter, but it's anything but. Everyone welcome, so dive in!

Jug of Tea RIP

This is all that remains of Morecambe's iconic Jug of Tea stand. Now demolished, along with its upstanding companion The Arena Funfair in the name of civic improvements. The Jug of Tea Flickr pool has been renamed accordingly. We shall never see its like again, sob.

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Andy Tuohy, of Poster Moderne fame has a new exhibition at McCarron's of Mercatoria, 68 Norman Rd, St.Leonards on Sea. It's on until new year.

The exhibition features pictures of Hastings, St.Leonards on Sea, Battle, Rye and Bexhill on Sea (De La Warr Pavilion). Andy often paints seaside towns and has some great pictures of seaside buildings in the south-east of England. Something lovely to brighten up the winter months.

Blackpool Rock

British Cream Tea make typical British foods out of felt. Their vanilla slice is a thing of beauty but it's this stick of rock that really won my heart. What's ever better is they're all custom made so you can have anything you like written through the middle (within reason). That's going straight on my Christmas list.

For a Scarboro' rose, a Swanage plank

We had a smashing time in Dorset. I wasn't expecting much but it was as lovely as all the other holidays we've had, in many unexpected ways. First of the photos is from Swanage pier, as recommended by Alix. You have to pay to walk on it but as the sign says "Strolling 40p" it was a pleasure to pay up. The planks on the pier are covered in these lovely plaques. The one above was good, but the one below was better.

David Evans: a lovely man

Could there be a better epitaph?

jubilee pool

Beside the Seaside: snapshots of British coastal life, 1890-1950 opens today at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. It's a exhibition of vintage photos plus other seaside-related artefacts. The NMM blog gives a good glimpse behind the scenes - check out the Punch and Judy puppets.

applecross circle

There's a Beside the Seaside Flickr group running for the duration of the exhibition and photos from it will be displayed by the museum, both on their website and in the galleries. Disclosure: The NMM are paying me to moderate this group - my pleasure! There's been a good turnout from the Flickr Seaside Massive and there are some great photos there already, like the two above of the Jubilee Pool, Penzance by sareypoppins and Applecross by Michael Prince. Do join in and add your favourites.

Oh dear, Fleetwood Pier has bitten the dust. The BBC have a feature on the fate of Weston-super-Mare following the fire on its pier back in August. For all the quotes commiserating its decline here's Paul from London, giving an alternative view:

Piers are a tired reminder of an irrelevant age. Would we dream of erecting giant ironwork structures in the middle of national parks - complete with candy floss stalls, amusement arcades, dilapidated pubs, and dreadful cafes? What class! Why we desecrate our coast in this fashion is beyond me as is the notion of spending millions resurrecting the anachronisms. No other country "treats" its coast to such impoverished imaginings. Long may our piers continue to be despoiled by the conflagrations they so richly deserve. "There's nothing like piers" - thank heavens for small mercies.

The West Pier

I had a look at the remains of Brighton's West Pier last week. It's a sad sight. There was a placard detailing regeneration proposals, full of grand promises about leaving the remains alone and building "a vertical pier" on the shorefront. Not terribly convincing. I suppose I see the opposite to Paul - they're old buildings that deserve conservation. It seems criminal that they're left to rot like this.

Gifts Shells Orgasmatron

Well, Brighton was fab. dConstruct08 was a lot of fun. Very thought-provoking. I'm still digesting it all. Brighton itself was wet and windy, which seemed appropriate in a way. Proper British seaside weather.

Just married on Brighton Pier

Random point: does anyone know what these things are called? I always take photos of them but don't know what to tag them with. There must be a technical term, surely.

Margate Shell Ladies

There's been something amazing happening in Margate. These wonderful shell ladies (7-ft high!) have been promenading around town. Created by sculptor Ann Carrington, they are named and modelled after notable local women like Fanny Newlove who founded the spectacular Margate Shell Grotto. Sadly these lovely ladies took their last walk yesterday but a permanent bronze version is due to be unveiled later this month. Found in mondoagogo's always excellent photostream.

Morecambe's iconic Jug of Tea stall now has its own Flickr group (photo above by pognophobia). Pictures of one thing over and over again from slightly different angles. I like that. This seems reminiscent of the last days of the New Piccadilly and lately Walthamstow Stadium which was all over Flickr after its closing night. Something so obviously out of place and time (now shown up by the shiny new Midland Hotel) attracts a devoted following, capturing it while they still can.

Jug of Tea

Eee, I remember when it only cost 99p. That's inflation for you.

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