“Oh I do love to be beside the seaside, oh I do love to be beside the seaaaaaa!”. I find it amazing that no matter where you are within the UK, you are never more than 70 miles away from the sea. Growing up in Essex it was always such a treat to spend a Saturday afternoon either in Clacton or Southend, me and my Sister used to beg to go! Granted, they aren’t the nicest seaside towns in Britain, there are some really lovely ones around the country, but they still had all the things that make British seaside towns great, even though they may be a little tacky and outdated, I love them.
If you think about it, they are pretty special places, they were a huge part of the Brit’s love of summer holidays. People would travel to a nearby seaside town and spend a few days are a holiday resort such as Butlins (did you know there was a Butlins in Clacton between 1936 to 1987?!…that’s a long time!!). With the introduction of cheap flights it has made more of the world accessible to Brits and the poor little seaside towns are left clinging on for dear life.
Why I love British Seaside Towns
Pleasure piers in Britain date back to the 19th Century and Southend-On-Sea is home to the longest one in the world, extending 1.3miles out into the sea! It’s had its fair share of incidents including a fire and it even got hit by a boat. Some of them are quite old now and they do tend to give you a little bit of an adrenaline kick if you look down, often you can see the sea between the planks of wood. Makes me wonder how much has been lost by things being dropped through the cracks! Some piers have amusement arcades, rides and theatres, others are ’empty’, more of a spot for fishing. It’s quite relaxing to stand on the end of one and just watch the sea and boats.
2. 2p Machines & Arcades
I have spent my fair share of time in the amusement arcades! It rains a LOT in the UK and the arcades were always a great place to hide from the rain, usually running almost the full length of the seafront so one is never too far away! Over the years I’m sure me and my family have wasted so much money on soft toy claw machines (this year alone I reckon we’ve spent over £5 trying to win Minion toys! When it’s only 20p a go, that’s a fair few times!) and I still don’t really see the point of 2p machines! You change up perfectly good ‘bigger coins’ into 2p’s just to try and win more 2p’s that are kinda looked down on if you try and pay for something in a shop with them! For a child though they are brilliant cheap fun.
3. Fairground Amusements
There’s something special about seeing the ‘classic’ fairground rides at the seaside, the Waltzers, Dodgems, Merry-go-rounds! There are a lot more modern style rides now. Wild Mouse rollercoasters are always slightly terrifying, it feels like you may be flicked right off into the sea. In Blackpool, they have a giant swing (similar to the Canyon Swing in New Zealand!) that swings you out right over the sea on the end of a rope!
4. Mini Golf!
A HUGE weakness of mine! I love mini golf and some seaside towns have more than 1 course! The holes are usually filled up with rain water but they are still fun. It’s great to see people of all ages playing too!
5. Sweet (candy) Stalls
Nothing says the ‘Great British Seaside’ like a stick of rock! For those that may not have come across this, it’s basically a stick of flavoured hard sugar (like a lolly pop with no stick…) with the name of the town or words stamped through the length of it. It’s kinda clever when you think of it! The rock below comes from Clacton-On-Sea! The stalls look amazing though, they have lines and lines of different coloured rock, nougat, if you head towards Devon and Cornwall…boxes of fudge and toffee complete with a free postcard, then hanging from the ceiling – sugar paper and sherbet flying saucers, candy floss, Smarties (chocolates a bit like M&M’s) and dummy (pacifier) lolly pops!
6. Fish and Chips on the Sea Wall
My absolute favourite thing to do in the UK! Nothing beats fish and chips from a traditional British takeaway chip shop! Usually wrapped in paper and eaten with a little wooden fork, I love sitting on the sea wall people watching and eating my all time favourite food. The fish always tastes so fresh when it’s bought from a chip shop on the coast compared to an inland one! …just beware of the sea gulls!
7. Beach Tat Shops
The sea is freezing and brown, the beach is just shingle (mainly on the Essex coast!), yet there are always loads of shops selling brightly coloured rubber swim rings, buckets and spades and sparkly pin wheels. They are bright and cheerful!
8. 99 Ice Creams!
99 ice creams are the ‘icon’ ice cream of British seasides…a cone, Whippy ice cream and a Cadbury’s chocolate flake! There are lots of soft scoop parlours too with plenty of flavours to choose from available in tubs or cones…slightly different from gelato but still just as good! In Devon and Cornwall you can even have clotted cream as a topping!
(Check out this post, when I was in Devon I had a cone with SEVON Whippy ice creams, I needed 2 hands to hold it! Amazing Ice Cream Parlours Around The World)
9. Land Trains
Sometimes seafronts can be a fair length. To transport people from one end to the other, some places will offer a land train service. A little train that pulls open air carriages, people can have a ride for a few pounds. I tend to walk, but they are fun to see!
10. Pretty Beach Huts
Now, I’ve not hired one before, they can be quite expensive and are essentially just a shed, most of the time they don’t even have electricity! But they always look so pretty as they are painted in bright or pastel colours. Sometimes they are up quieter ends of seaside towns, away from the main attractions.
It’s my dream to live near the sea, I find the sound of waves relaxes me and I even love hearing seagulls! What’s your favourite thing about visiting the coast? Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear!