Today we took a break from packing. Off we went for lunch at The Needles Eye Cafe in Milford on Sea. This took us past our prospective new home outside which stood a furniture van into which items were being decanted from the house. This made us feel optimistic that we may be able to collect the keys fairly early on 31st.
Obtaining cash in the small town was an interesting experience. There was no bank. We thought there might be an ATM in the Co-op. There was. But it wasn’t working. The shop assistant directed me to a beauty parlour, on the outside wall of which I would find a cash machine. You see, the building used to be a bank. Quite handy if you needed cash for a make-over.
At the cafe, as I was feeling rather peckish, I treated myself to a perfectly cooked light snack while Jackie enjoyed a baked potato filled with cheese and beans. My fry-up should have been followed by toast and marmalade. By the time I realised this had been forgotten, I informed the staff that I would be quite satisfied without it. With it I would have been sated.
This was the first time the tide had been low enough here for me to walk along the strand. It wasn’t long before I realised that I could neither continue hopping over breakwaters nor reach the footpath above. My way to the bank was blocked by hundreds of yards of metal barriers erected on either side of what had once been long terracing of beach huts. A dog owner, whose pet was anxiously wandering along the barriers with that tell-tale tail wagging, told me she was ‘keen to get down to her favourite beach’.
Shingle still covered the concrete steps.
These holiday venues were much more substantial than the wooden ones we had seen at Hordle Cliff Beach. They were built of breeze block with roofs of some kind of aggregate. The storms had destroyed some, rendered others unusable, and the whole area unsafe to enter. Entire buildings were now just gaps in the rows; others had lost walls, roofs, doors, or windows. A notice announced that ‘the work’ would be finished by April 11th. Men in hard hats wandered along the devastated stretches.
Through one space where a hut should have been, I had a clear view of the now calm sea with The Needles in the background. The fortuitous notice warning of ‘the gap’ was nothing to do with that created by the so recently raging ocean. It was akin to those similar signs painted on tube station platforms where the bend in the rail cannot be fully adjusted for by the train carriages, thus leaving a wide gap to be leaped over on entering the transport. Here there is a gap between the edge of the made-up footpath and the backs of the huts. I imagine it is possible, if you are really determined, to lose your leg down it.
The early morning rain had set in again by the time I, later, walked down to the postbox and back, passing Castle Malwood Park Farm.
Having seen what I had for lunch, Jackie really should have had mercy on me this evening. But, no, she presented me with an irresistible plate of her delicious chilli con carne (recipe) and wild rice and peas. I didn’t quite manage to eat it all.