I’m much closer to the coast here than I was in Mexico City. But they are very different coasts. The beaches across the other side of the Atlantic are sun kissed and the waters warm and inviting. On a good day, there are spots along the shore of the UK which bear fair comparison with their more exotic cousins in the Americas. Visually comparable. But any illusion of similarity is soon dispelled the moment a toe touches water.
The seas along the south coast of England tend to be more industrial. Our shipbuilding industry has declined, although there are still maritime success stories that aren’t involved with building warships, but the architecture and docks tell a story of a proud and extensive seafaring nation. There’s plenty of wrecks to explore if diving is your thing, but you’ll not only need to be the hardier sort of diver to cope with the temperature and currents, but also a sharp eyed diver, with eyesight suited to seeing through muddy water. But the English coastline does have its charm.
Every Tuesday night in Poole Quay is Bike Night. Hundreds of bikers on all sorts of machines gather to show off their steeds and admire the other bikes that make it to the seafront safely. I hadn’t been since 2003 or 2004, so I popped along last Tuesday. It’s only a pound to drive into the main street that Bike Night is hosted on.
I had intended to park away from the action, rather than ride my scooter past scores of motorcyclists clad in leathers, twiddling impressive moustaches and strutting about besides their giant Harleys., Triumphs and Hondas. But parking, the variety that doesn’t come with a potential £70 fine, was hard to find. I paid my pound and braved the crowd.
I like Poole Quay. I like the cocktail of aromas that fill the air – sea mist, burned petrol and rubber, fish and chips. I like the buildings that are a good deal more colourful than you’ll usually find in the UK. Almost Mexican-esque. The restaurants are good, and the nightlife vibrant, without being quite so liable to the outbreaks of violence and vomiting that afflicts most British towns after dark. Although sometimes those sort of events have a very satisfying ending.
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