A few years ago, there was a great album by a band called Delays, which was called Faded Seaside Glamour. Having just got back from a few days at Weymouth, I can confirm that very little has faded about it. In fact, if anything Weymouth is even better than it used to be because the older bits remain largely unchanged and the new bits have largely improved it.
I was particularly impressed to see that the railway line from the train station, in the middle of the road, right up to the Ferry port is still there. And the long platform at the port is still there, although I assume it is purely for decorative purposes these days. Alternatively, the old railway remains because someone is very long-sighted and believes that one day the trains will again rumble down the road by the harbour or maybe it’s too expensive to get rid off.
The little streets around the harbour are there too, although there are an awful lot of charity shops among the tat shops, and there are too many branches of McDonalds and Pound shops for my liking. You can’t beat the near traffic free stroll, although there is a problem with beggars around town. And in amongst it all is Fish and Fritz, a quite magnificent chippy where I recklessly and foolishly ordered a large cod and chips and was full up for over a day.
The beach, even in February, is spotless and the harbour is a working one, with trawlers dropping by to unload huge catches of what appeared to be shellfish (I am not an expert).
We stayed at the hotel called the Rembrandt and we were not disappointed. Every single member of staff was polite and professional, the facilities were excellent (there was a gym and swimming pool which we failed to use) and the breakfast was on an industrial scale. I have probably not lost a lot of weight despite all the walking we did, much of which it must be said was to and from the pub.
We drove home via Broadchuch, or West Bay as it used to be known. Actually, it’s still called West Bay but the ITV series Broadchurch has returned it to the national psyche, as Reginald Perrin once did when he walked naked into the sea and Nick Berry did when he was starring in Harbour Lights. Lots of modern apartments surround the harbour but they haven’t ruined West Bay because there’s nothing left to ruin. There’s a huge caravan park at the far end, a large cliff at the other and a harbour with various hotels, pubs and little take aways in between. And even though the harbour has been modernised and made safer and more efficient, the place retains its charm, even though I can’t quite define what it is or why. I think people like me just like it. There was no sign of David Tennant, or even Freddie ‘Parrot Face’ Davies (who I recall appeared in Harbour Lights) and definitely no Reggie Perrin.
Dorset comes highly recommended for culture vultures, of which I am not one, but it’s equally good for people who just want to have a relaxing couple of days in a lovely county.