The south coast of England is not generally blessed with sandy beaches. Pebbles and shingle of varying size are more our forte here, with the added benefit that walking on them (especially when barefoot) equals a free reflexology treatment.
But the beach at West Wittering is gob-smackingly gorgeous - a great long stretch of practically powdery sand with shallow safe swimming and a whole load of sand dunes at one end. I've not been there for, ooh, possibly ever, come to think of it and last week, at the start of the current heatwave, I whined like a small child about wanting to go to the beach and decided it had to be West Wittering.
South-westish of Chichester, West Wittering is part of a privately owned estate (the infamous 1960s Rolling Stones drug bust took place at Keith Richards' house here - you know, the one with Marianne Faithfull and the Mars Bar, that one...). The houses are fabulously expensive, the roads quiet(ish) and tree-lined. You have to pay to park here (but that seems to be quite common these days) and be gone by sundown which seems a little draconian but it does mean that there are no fish 'n' chip shops, burger vans, amusement arcades or loud pubs. Dogs are not allowed on the beach which, on the one hand is a sadness because I love seeing happy dogs in the surf but, on the other, no dog shit! It's all very clean and tidy, there are plentiful public toilets which are a pleasure to use, old fashioned beach huts lie in a row just off the sand and lifeguards patrol frequently.
We had to get some supplies first, so lunch was bought and a couple of collapsible chairs obtained. Swimming cossies, hats and suncream were all packed into bags and off we went.
The drive down from Godalming to Chichester is really rather picturesque - it takes you through the rolling downs of southern England through Haslemere:
Until, about 90 minutes after setting out, we reached the beach, paid the parking, and headed off down to the sea.
Somewhat unfortunately, everyone else in the south of England had also seemingly had the same idea that day:
But the beach is big enough to accommodate everyone. We were, to be honest, surprised at how many older teenagers there were there that day, and then it dawned on us that A Level exams must have just finished - possibly even the day before - and now they were all out with their mates at the seaside, relaxing and letting off steam.
Of course, being surrounded by stick-thin lovelies with perfect thighs and no visible body hair does absolutely nothing for the ego but I can comfort myself with the fact that I used to look like that too and now, well, let's just hope no-one is going whalewatching:
Whoah, careful with that harpoon there, Ahab....
Still, it's always tricky to know where to put your packet of fags when you ain't got no pockets, innit: I did actually submerge myself fully and, after the first hypothermic shock, found the sea to be quite warm so stayed in, swimming and bobbing around, for about half an hour. The last time I swam in the sea off the coast of England was in about 1984 - I won't be rushed into things! Checking online after we got home, it seems the sea temperature was about 17-19 degrees centigrade, which is somewhere in the mid to upper 60s Fahrenheit. My cousins in Canada (Hi Steve and Trudy!) declared me to be insane as they wouldn't even deign to stick a toe into water 'that cold'. However, a personal internal duvet layer of body fat always helps, I find.
The Husband can be a bit of a stranger to the great outdoors, especially if it's really hot and sunny, so after watching him slowly do a striptease in reverse until he resembled a mummy as he covered each bit of exposed skin with whatever we had to hand, we decided at about 3.30pm to head off home. It was a fabulous day and one I'm actually quite keen to repeat, especially as this summer's supposed to be a good one (and it's 28.5 degrees centigrade indoors as I'm typing this) - I just wished we lived a bit nearer.
Sexy, glamorous, slim. Inclined to exaggerate. All my own hair and most of my own teeth. Able to break equipment in a single bound. Not shy of a bottle of wine or three. Am happily married to The Lovely Husband (TLH) and was owned by two cats called Sylvester Bean (who crossed the Rainbow Bridge on 27 December 2013) and Pepper Bean (who went over first on 2 November 2010). UPDATE: As of November 2014, we became the new minions of Puffle Segar and Maggie Segar who voluntarily moved out of their original home (due to the introduction of unrelated kittens) so we took them in. After saying we didn't want any more cats. Like you do. They obviously sensed there was a cat vacuum in our house and moved in to fill it, furry little buggers.
I wish I was better at everything I do.