While in Dorset visiting Mum, my friend had kindly booked us a night in a Swanage hotel - mainly so we could walk the coastal paths, draw and yak to a great extent, but very sadly she couldn't make it at the last moment. So, I went on my own as Booking.com refused to reimburse her . . . Bastards.
Anyway, I'd never been to Swanage, despite living in the county for some years, and a small break from the hours drinking tea, listening to surreal phrases and filling in photo albums with Mum was a welcome, if I'm honest, prospect.
A rain-laden wind was hacking its way around the buildings as I got off the bus, forcing me to explore the town's cafés, my favourite being an untouched-by-time bakery/eatery on the seafront with old pine tables, misted sea-view windows and more unhealthy food that you could shake a toasted tea-cake at.
I had a pastie and wrote poetic rubbish while half-listening to various local's conversations about groins (beach), landslides and Christmas, after which the rain eased off (love this expression) and I was able to go out and explore the almost people-less town.
Swanage has an atmosphere of still being in the 60s, somehow. Perhaps it was the old shop fronts, untampered with from the 20s, 30s and 60s, with occasional 70s and 80s makeovers, hardly any chain shops (hurrah) except Oxfam book shop (excellent) and Smiths (horrible, as they all are). I did all the charity shops, walked along the sea front, up into the backstreets and marvelled at the curve of the bay and huge cliff face jutting out into the ocean.
I was surprised that the tourist office didn't have lashings of Enid Blyton's works as apparently she used to holiday and write there, and there was no 'writer's trail', mention of where she stayed etc; maybe it's more of a summer thing.
Actually, I just checked and found that she often stayed in The Grand Hotel where I went in search of food the same evening after checking the scarily expensive menu of my hotel. I hope she experienced better nourishment than I did - a very odd long, white platter containing a veritable mattress of undressed salad and a trail of packet and jar seafoods . . .
Back to the day - After my coat could absorb no more rain, I walked up to the hotel and found my room which was cleaner than bleach, bland and featureless but with a stunning sea view and A BATH!
Aforementioned meal eaten at rival hotel, I read, watched a bit of TV, had wonderful bath and fell asleep lulled by the sound of crashing waves and strange plumbing noises.
Nine hours sleep! Unheard of.
I woke to a slightly calmer day and the sun rising between clouds casting intermittent silver rays over the sea.
My coat was a little dryer so I donned it (and other clothes) and walked out to the coastal path and onto the beginning of the rounded, treeless hills, rather reminiscent of the Yorkshire dales and similarly dotted with sheep and lowing cows.
The house I would rather like . . .
Back for breakfast - excellent buffet, heavy on the fruit options which was great but my choice of Eggs Benedict was nasty to say the least - cold white muffin, chunks of cold ham, rubbery egg and gloopy yellow . . . stuff which tasted like emulsion. Maybe that was the recipe, followed faithfully.
I packed my bag and walked back into town, this time along the coast path as the waves were less ferocious and explored further; took tea in a 1920s bakery which had undergone an interior re-fit in the early 80s but still had the beautiful original shop-front with metal lettering and art deco glass windows, and absently-mindedly looked in a few estate agent shop windows.
Well, if Brexit happens, the French government fails, and the right get in, I/we might get thrown out and have to re-consider life on the rock. Swanage? Probably not. But most interesting for a day's investigation, thinking time, drawing, writing and appreciating that some places have the courage to stay as they are and not succumb to Starbucks, Nero's, Subway and all the rest of it . . .
The house we probably could afford (35,000 pounds!)