Saturday, September 13, 2008

A Trip To The Seaside

Last Thursday I went to Barrow. Oh nooooo, titter ye not.

Barrow is THE place to go to y'know. All the best people can be seen there.

Anyway it was my first time and I loved the place.

Ok I'd better qualify that surprising statement. I loved the beaches around Barrow. The town itself I could take or leave. It had once been the iron and steelmaking centre of the world and was a major UK ship building town for many decades. It had been building surface ships and submarines for over 100 years when the contracts for surface ships ran out and the town could easily have fallen on hard times.

But it concentrated on submarines and now builds the largest nuclear submarines in the UK. The very impressive Devonshire Dock Hall, where submarine modules are put together in the way that NASA uses it's Vertical Assembly Building to attach the shuttle to it's external fuel tanks, dominates the town in a way that is almost unique in this country.

I rarely post photos on this blog that weren't taken by me but in this case, Jonathan Webb has taken a view of the Devonshire Dock Hall that I'd be hard pushed to better ! Impressive building eh ?

I'll take that as a load of yesses as it bloody well IS.

But before this turns into a potted history of Barrow that you can get in much better form over on Wikipedia - I'll move on to a rather more personal view and get back to those beaches.

If you think the Devonshire thingamay building is impressive, well you'll be blown away by the Barrow beaches. I certainly was and I've been on some impressive beaches in my time, I can tell you. Well I guess I just did. So that was unnecessary. And so was that. And that.

Ok moving on.................

Where was I ? Barrow beaches. Thank you.

Until about 5pm last Thursday, I'd thought that Daytona Beach in Florida was the 'largest' beach I'd ever been on.  Well it was.  As I'd not been to Barrow till then.  I mean cars drive on Daytona Beach for goodness sake !  It's famous for it.  When the tide goes out you feel like you could walk to Europe and only get your ankles wet. It's fucking HUGE, as the French would say. Well with a bit more style and a few more accents, but they'd still say it.

As you can see, this Barrow beach was packed on Thursday. Well at least the sand was and it begged the question - why did wannabe world land speed record holders go all the way to the dry salt flats at Bonneville in the US of A when we had a beach like this all the time ?

You could've raced Jumbo jets on this beach, side by side, and still had room for all the Chariots Of Fire extras - and their chariots. And the film crew. And the studio. And, well you get the picture. No not THAT picture. This picture.

When I started walking along it, it was a mini Chariots Of Fire moment actually. The wind was blowing my hair over my face (shut it, you), my cheeks were glowing a healthy red (shouldn't have worn the kilt) and I could hear the waves breaking on the shoreline, about 12 miles away !
I was all for settling off at a gallop but you know how it is.

I'm an unfit, fat bastard and anyway, I'd have dropped my chips.

If you click on the photo and look wayyyyyyyy off in the distance, you may see 2 parachutists landing in the water. Nooooo not really. They were kitesurfers who use a special surf board and a large kite/parachute to skim across the water using only the power of the wind and a meal of baked beans.

I never got close enough to them to get a decent photo so you'll have to make do with these distant views - but you get the idea.

Every time I'd get a bit closer, they seemed to just zoom off as if camera shy.

There was also someone doing a similar thing on the beach but of course using a wheeled vehicle. It was like a large surfboard on wheels and at first I thought it was called beach yachting but I think that's when the vehicle has a sail attached.

This chap was using a kite/parachute just like his watery friend so I've no idea what that would be called. In any case I can't see either becoming an Olympic sport as it would all end in tears when the lines became entangled and 20 competitors were lifted off en masse to be dumped in a soggy heap 5 miles away.

But it was certainly spectacular to watch and I'm sure it provided a hell of a buzz for the people concerned.

I like this shot even though the chute isn't in the picture. I wanted to show the way the surfer churned up the water and I think this shows it very well.

The idea was to search for the larger waves and then ride them or even take off for a few seconds - not that they did this much so I think the two were fairly new to the sport. I've seen shots of participants really flying up quite a distance, safe in the knowledge that the pull of the chute will save them from a wipe out back in the water. Much better than normal surfing I'd have to think.

By now it was getting late and we had to leave the beach for a restaurant date.

I looked out into the sun and saw a shot worth taking. The surfer had started out on the sand and been dragged by his chute back into the water. You can see the trail he left behind him.

The sun was trying to break through the cloudy skies and this left enough light to just about see the colours in the chute but I decided to switch to the black & white setting for this shot.

I felt it added to the dramatic view and helps to take your eye down from the chute to the surfer sitting waiting to be taken up onto his feet and off along the water line again.

We left and had a lovely meal nearby (thank you Amy) and then back for an evening of chat and looking at photos well into the night (thank you Lesley and Frank).

Next day we went to another beach which was just as impressive in it's size and also that we had it pretty much to ourselves again. This one had classic dunes with that lovely soft sand that just begs to be walked on.

The tide was going out and when we eventually did turn around and walk back, we had a fun time examining the area that had been under water just a few minutes earlier.

Many amazing rocks were now exposed and Amy seemed to know the composition of them all.

We picked several each and they are now in the back of my car here in Leeds ready to be washed and placed somewhere in our respective houses.

I've not been a rock collector before but I may have caught the bug now. I'll have to look out for some distinctive ones when in Florida although they'll need to be small light ones as luggage weight is always an issue when flying these days. I'd better not try and take them in my carry on bag in case I'd done for carrying weapons. 

"This is a hijack. Do what I tell you or I'll fill your pockets with pebbles"

Serious terrorism for sure. 

After a lovely pub lunch at noon (thank you Daffy) we went to visit the nearby Furness Abbey which has been photographed by better people than myself so I'll not post any of mine - except for this one.

This was taken in the small graveyard area which we passed at the end of our tour around the abbey grounds.

Now I'm no archaeologist, even though I'm incredibly old myself, so I donno what this was exactly but in my amateur way, I'd have to think it was a very shallow grave for a single monk.  And a naughty monk at that.

I mean it's monk shaped and even has a place for the head to be laid just so we'd know which end was which.

And speaking of such thing, it also lends some credence to the belief that viagra was available long before this century as this grave was clearly designed so that the monk could be buried face down !!

Maybe he was the cassanova of the monk world and I'll leave you to make up your own jokes incorporating 'bad habits'.

After this we left and went back to pick up Amy and we all set off back to Leeds after a fun time in Barrow and the surrounding area.

Given its location right on the end of a peninsula on the extreme west coast of England, Barrow is not a place you'd tend to visit on the way to somewhere else.  But it IS worth a visit if only for those stunning beaches and after all, it's only 100 miles from Leeds and lies at the bottom of the scenic Lake District - an area of England that is always worth visiting even though it can seem like half the country goes there in high summer.

Just leave your motorhome somewhere else.  Maybe in Barrow.


Daphne said...

Just to remind everyone - click on the photos to enlarge them as they look great but even better at full size! It was a lovely trip with excellent company (thank you Silverback). The first beach is Earnse Bay and the second one, with the dunes, is Roanhead.

Jennyta said...

Looks like you had a lovely trip. I have been to Barrow a couple of times and there certainly are some lovely stretches of beach around there.

rhymeswithplague said...

We have a Point Barrow, but it is way up on the northern coast of Alaska, so it has a beach also, of sorts.

We have wheelbarrows, too, but that is perhaps a topic for another day.

Jay said...

"using only the power of the wind and a meal of baked beans." ROFL!!!

Looks like a great sport, but preferably to watch, not take part in. I don't fancy being dumped into the ocean with a heavy parachute thingy on top of me, half a mile out from shore.

The beaches look lovely. There's a beach on the Lleyn peninsula (north Wales) called Black Rock Sands which is huge, and big enough to let any number of cars park on, in the summer, and still leave plenty of room to drive, walk, sunbathe, land-yacht or whatever. Beautiful. Our first greyhound loved it. He'd be a speck in the distance, but always come and find us again.

The thing in the graveyard looks like a horse/dog trough with a plughole! So funny!

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