May 2014.

I've bought a campervan as a 60th birthday present to myself, made some curtains and a patchwork quilt, waved goodbye to my family, and set off. My aim is to explore the coastline of Britain, anti clockwise, starting in Kent. I have no idea what will happen.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Frinton on Sea

I headed for Frinton from Mersea island via the scenic route. At least I tried to, but I somehow ended up skimming the bottom of the Colchester rush-hour. I eventually found my way out and saw pretty Fingringhoe, and Rowhedge on the River Stour. Rowhedge now has an up-and-coming feeling, being close to Colchester and commutable to London, but once had shipbuilding and a busy fishing fleet. David Cole told me, being a sailor and knowing about it, that the owners of serious sailing boats, the Americas Cup, etc, in the early part of the 20th century, recruited many of their helmsmen and crew from the Essex fishing fleet, the ports of Rowhedge, Wivenhoe, Tilsbury and Brightlingsea, because they were such excellent men of the sea.
We stayed at Frinton when I was about 9; my grandparents booked a beachhut, and The Cedars Hotel for themselves, and put Mummy, Jane and me in a B&B round the corner. Dad wasn't there. Mum was shocked when we arrived  -  she'd had a terrible drive from Hampshire, and probably hit that Colchester rush hour too - to discover that The Cedars was dry. I don't think she had been back to Frinton since she won the under-10s mixed doubles about 30 years before. Luckily the nice B&B lady had a bottle of Dubonnet to soothe her nerves. 
Jane and I thought our lodgings were the height of sophistication; we had our own room key, pink candlewick bedspreads and grapefruit segments in little shiny steel dishes for breakfast.
Frinton beach 
Granny and Grandpa came by in the morning  – he in his tweed sports jacket and tie (never seen without) and she in her Pringle twinset - with a picnic basket from the hotel, and we went to the beach. We had seersucker swimsuits and a good covering of goosebumps and when we changed after swimming there was a howling draught through the floorboards – shivering cold, sandy wet feet on dry wooden floorboards. But we loved it!
Today Frinton feels just the same, small, neat and clean, the last word in gentility. Maybe Mum didn't realise, in 1963, that the whole town was dry. Now I believe there is a pub (possibly even two), though I didn't see it. You have to drive out of town if you want fish and chips, and carry them back under the cover of darkness.
The greensward looks just the same except there was someone kite-boarding, and a windfarm out at sea. I think I found just about where our beach hut had been, with the promenade running by, and the sturdy steps down to the beach. The fee for dog-fouling on the prom is now £500 which has probably just gone up with inflation.
I talked to a lady from Hamburg on the beach who was collecting shells. She loves Frinton  so much that, since she retired, she has rented a flat here for two months twice a year -  and taken up golf.
I walked back up to Baa who was parked beyond the greensward. It was almost completely deserted (6pm on a Tuesday in May) not a moving car in sight, just a John Lewis delivery van driving by.

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