I drove down yesterday – it took a ludicrous four hours, owing to problems on the M25. My Sat Nav directed me through Staines and Kingston to avoid it – it would probably have been quicker to sit in the queue. My B & B is pleasant – clean with a friendly landlady, very glamorously dressed in a maxi dress yesterday and a leopard skin print today. Think south-east Bet Lynch, but a bit more classy!
I was beguiled by yesterday’s weather into thinking that today might be a beautiful walking day. Unfortunately, the elements were not in my favour. The wind blew relentlessly into my face all day – it did not let up for 5 minutes together, and at times was so strong I had trouble walking in a straight line. My face is now on fire with windburn, despite having factor 25 on. It rained a fair bit too: nevertheless, I made excellent progress. I took the train back up from Bognor to Shoreham and began walking at 9.30. It was very straightforward all of the way – along the promenade with occasional sorties onto the shingle (very tough walking) or into little parks or nature “greenswards” as the Council interpretation boards call them. In one of these seafront parks there is a National Lottery funded set of fitness machines and I had fun for 5 minutes playing on equipment it would cost me a fortune to use in the gym. I was chatting to a fellow user – Vinnie, an Irishman from Tipperary, living in Lancing for 25 years. He kindly took my photo to prove I can lift my own body weight. Vinnie looks after people’s IT, so if you have any problems check him out on http://www.vinnie-the-computer-man.co.uk/
I reached Littlehampton at around 2pm for lunch – see review. The young lady serving told me that West Beach where I was headed was a nudist beach, but, given the insane wind, I didn’t think it likely that I would see anything of interest. I left Littlehampton, crossing the bascule bridge and followed the road for about half a mile, before breaking off onto a public footpath, or rather, what should have been a public footpath. The field has been laid to oil seed rape with no path left across it. By the time I emerged on the other side from the chin high crop, I was head to foot with yellow powder and sneezing my head off.
The path continued along the edge of the beach, then, for the very first time since I began, I came to a sandy beach. Without Chris to lead me astray, I decided that it was too cold to take my boots off but it was lovely walking on the pale grey sand. Back up to the shingle as the tide came in fast, then another long trudge along the tarmac prom into Bognor, with the amazing pavilions of the holiday camp showing the way.
Apparently, Bognor gained its “Regis” because King George V liked to visit, however his last recorded words were, it seems, “Bugger Bognor!” I can’t say I disagree with him! The west end of it is shabby and rather grim and there are some very tasty characters about in the evening, I noticed, as I scuttled back to my B & B, after an indifferent (but friendly) meal in a bar/pizzeria/chippie combo.