It’s English Tourism Week, giving Standard Issue writers the chance to rave about three of their favourite spots.
Oh I really, really do like to be beside the seaside. I love the smell of the salt air, the sounds of the waves lapping and cry of dancing seagu… oh who am I kidding? I love sparkly lights, hot doughnuts, and getting a massive return on 1p coins.
And nowhere brings it with such gaudy splendour as Brighton Pier: the showgirl of all seaside attractions. The sort of gaudy temptress who tantalises from afar but once up close you realise is 100 years old, yellow at the edges and showing the signs that many have had a good go on her.
But for me the peeling paint and broken lights are the charms of the pier, evoking images of a Burton-like faded fairytale. It’s as though these clues of a bygone age are keeping it thriving; a crumbling monument of what it was to holiday on the bonny British south coast: all mods tooting horns on scooters, bouncing beauties eating chips out of newspaper cones and suited gangsters sharing a laugh and a bit of Brighton rock after their latest murder.
Brighton Pier: your food is a hypoglycaemic attack waiting to happen, your wooden structure is truly terrifying and your ghost train is merely awful. Can’t wait to see you again babes.
You can’t get much more English than Warwick Castle: royalty, castles, knights and princesses. It was even used as a filming location for the Harry Potter films.
In addition to the interior of the castle the attraction also offers a dizzying array of live performances and exhibits including a full size working trebuchet that catapults a ball of fire several hundred yards.
You can also watch falconry and jousting demonstrations.
The whole attraction is brilliantly thought out and carefully pitched to balance some of the darker and grosser elements of medieval living without glorifying violence. A collaboration with the Horrible Histories brand was a great move; the kids loved it. For the fully immersive experience we stayed on site – medieval glamping in pimped up marquees with wooden floors, furniture and wi-fi.
A lot of the children attending the castle come in fancy dress as knights or princesses although, on the weekend that we were there we were the only adults who had also made the effort. My sister and I were fine, we were asked for our autograph by some littler princesses but Mr Winters regretted allowing me to pick his costume.
Apparently his Friar Tuck bald-spot wig was a bit warm for the weather.
I’m lucky enough to live in Canterbury, which is properly pretty. If you’re visiting the most obvious place to see is the Cathedral and its grounds. You might also enjoy the ruins of St Augustine’s Abbey (an English Heritage site), the Heritage Museum on Stour Street where Bagpuss lives or the Roman Museum on Butchery Lane where a massive, well preserved Roman Town House floor was discovered after the shop above it was destroyed in the War. Thanks, Hitler!
There are good places to go for free. The Beaney on the High Street has free art galleries and exhibitions and Westgate Gardens is a lovely riverside park ending in Toddler’s Cove play area.
There are all the usual restaurant and café chains but a couple of independent places that do great food and have a lovely atmosphere are The Saffron Café on Castle St for lunches and Café Des Amis Du Mexique on St Dunstan’s St for really good fajitas.
Gabby Hutchinson-Crouch2016 Views
Some of Standard Issue's brilliant women's carefully crafted words for your reading pleasure.