I had said that Weston-super-mare was an easy sea-side place to meet, but it took Banksy’s Dismaland to get the three of us there from Pontypridd, Bath and Swindon. (If you live in Bath or Swindon, sea air is a luxury.) Linda’s Swindon train was late and Kathy and I went ahead, keen to queue. Despite some hard travellers in only vests, it was grim weather, truly dismal.
Excitement wiped out the wet when we saw the Banksy arrows on pavements and a pub (note all the exciting posters in the windows) with other contributors’ street art.
Kathy (who had been in Dismaland for an evening) recommended the 20p toilets on the sea front as queue free. The ironwork over the benches was nice.
The queue for Dismaland was as long as a queue should be and a bit longer, and we met some folk from Bristol who, like Kathy, had fond memories of the run-down Tropicana rides. An hour and a half flew by. When Linda got there, late and damp, we queued some more. My core temperature was dropping badly. We left: terrible, but we would have waited till 3. Coffee in The Bay cafe was very good and we perused the tabloids to see what nonsense they are writing about Corbyn, being Guardian readers. And the football, being from Manchester. Then we had a last glance at the queue and headed off to walk round Dismaland. The sun had come out.
After passing the rubbish bins and back of the site, we met two men at an information kiosk (locals got a ticket each) who enjoyed the subversive art – everyone seems to get it. Over the sea, we could see Cardiff glinting in the sunlight – the men said that regular ferries from Cardiff used to call at the old Pier (Birnbeck Pier), a wreck in the distance.
Looking back at the town, there were the grand old hotels. We followed the wall, past sandcastles.
Sea, sand and sun combined perfectly. The sand further out is dangerous and sinking when the tide is low – up to a mile from the front.
We could see some tops of structures in Dismaland in the wind. We weren’t alone on the beach either – Weston was lovely, if windy.
A kind woman took photos of the three of us in a shelter (more nice ironwork).
We walked northwards, getting hungry and enjoying fish and chips with a pint at The Old Thatched Cottage (dated 1774) before carrying on past some seaside oddities and round the Italianate Knightstone island. This island was bought in 1830 by a Dr Fox who established medicinal baths, and who gives his name to the tearoom. Most of it now looks residential.
A causeway, first built in the 1820s when baths first opened, creates a tidal pool – and interesting shadows. At the far end are fine typical seaside buildings – some residential hotels or care homes, and it is a grand area.
Getting closer to Birnbeck Pier – like the Tropicana site, the future of this is uncertain – we stopped at the RNLI shop.
Birnbeck Pier is well-known and houses the Lifeboat Station. The volunteer run cafe and information point was closed.
The sea still looked gorgeous, and it was time to get back to the station.
We missed the artwork and had a wonderful day out. Weston has much more to offer and far more to explore from its history as a mid 19th century spa town through its decline in the late 20th century. It was popular as a holiday resort from the Valleys as well as Bristol and Bath.
There is nothing quite like a good day out at the seaside.