Spring Break

Spring is the best season in Bournemouth, just ahead of autumn. Winter and summer are both dreadful. The former because it’s so cold, bleak and bloody miserable. The latter because the town swells with tourists, from a population of about eighty thousand up to several billion. Or so it seems.

A decent spring, April through to June, with co-operative weather, can be jolly nice. The beaches are empty, the town centre is pleasant to walk through and the traffic is just at normal levels of grid lock, not the super grid lock we get in summer.

This spring is already looking a bit busier than normal though. Every cafe and restaurant has set up shop outside, on the pavement. It’s all a little bit European. Which is a bit ironic really, given the politics of the last few years. Still, I like Euro pavement culture. We could rename the town Bôurnemouth d’Azur. And now that everyone has gotten over the initial excitement of the shops all reopening, it’s all beginning to look and feel more like it should.

I’m going to make the most of this spring. I’m going to enjoy it. Because this summer is going to be a staycation summer in the UK, and Bournemouth is going to be hell on earth*. Or Bôurnemouth d’Hades, if we’re sticking with Eurospeak.

* but it will also be the much needed shot in the arm for local businesses.


Property Projects

Mrs P and I go for a walk pretty much daily. Some walks are a bit further than others. Some routes we do more than others. Most of them involve walking from home, down through Bournemouth Gardens and on to the pier. There is one route we regularly do which is a little further from home. During Lockdown 1, a year ago, when we had oodles of time to kill, we used to walk there. But it took several hours to walk that loop, so these days we drive to the starting point at Canford Cliffs.

It’s a nice area, affluent, with a smart but small high street. There’s a Mazda dealership on the corner. We bought our little Mazda 2 from the place about a year and a half ago. Baffi Pizza at the other end of the street does the best pizza in the area. In between there is a lovely bakery and a selection of estate agents, selling expensive local flats and houses.

And a bit further down the road is Lochfyne, an excellent seafood restaurant. Their social media feed is currently raging against Brexit. They are unhappy. Our divorce from the EU has seen British fish exports to the continent slashed. Scottish salmon and shellfish suppliers have seen exports drop by up to 98%. Catastrophic. But my sympathy for their plight is rather limited. Their social media feed in 2015 and 2016 argued for Brexit, on the basis it would be great for British fishing.

We walk from the car down to the beach and then loop back through Lilliput, where we often buy coffee and cake from either Mark Bennetts Bakery or Rockets and Rascals cycle shop/cafe, depending upon who has the shorter queue. The road back to the car from there takes us through the gloriously scenic Parkstone golf club.

Just before we get to the golf course are a pair of semi detached properties. A year ago, it was in a bit of a state. But workmen have been busy restoring them, particularly the left hand one. It’s now pretty much finished and is listed on Rightmove. Having spent a year looking at the outside being put right, I can now have a nosy look at the inside. It’s very smart and modern, don’t you think? I like it. And yet. I think it’s lost a lot of the character it once had. Which is a shame.

Mrs P and I have had our own flat valued recently. We would quite like a flat with a large balcony or, better still, a terraced house. We were quite happy with the figure we were given for ours. It’d be easy to sell our flat at the moment, and we’d likely get our asking price. Londoners are desperately seeking to exit the big city. It’s definitely a sellers market at the moment.

Our problem is finding a reasonably priced house with garden or sun terrace. Those are two features that are in high demand, unsurprisingly. We both love the semi detached house we’ve watched being renovated. But at £825,000 it’s well out of our financial reach. Although we didn’t need to see it on Rightmove to know that. The Ferrari parked out front was the real giveaway.


The Chocolate Box

When I came back from Mexico in 2011, I filled in a hundred or more application forms for all sorts of different jobs. I had several telephone interviews. I had a couple of assessments. And I had one success,at a firm based inside this big brown building. It was an old block called Heron House and full of asbestos. I got the job at the end of the interview – an Inbound Sales Advisor for a home insurance company called Insure4Retirement. Aka I4R. I started that job ten years ago today. Doesn’t time fly?

There were over a dozen of us on the two week training course. Four of us were destined for the Inbound department. Matt, a little bit full of himself but nonetheless a good chap. Kate, so full of beans she’d stroll in each day bouncing off the walls. And Carly, a very pretty young lady who turned every male head in the office but seemed unsure why.

What’s happened in a decade? I lasted four and a half years at I4R, the first couple of years in this building. Then we moved just round the corner to a newer, less asbestosy building. I4R had three floors of this building, floors three, four and eight. I worked on eight. It’s since been transformed into flats, had a ninth floor added and renamed the Chocolate Box. At the same time as the office relocation, I4R was bought out by a giant US insurance firm. Last year, they closed I4R down, made everyone redundant and transferred the customer book to their other base in Wakefield.

Me? Well I now work on the railways. I’ve no idea what happened to Matt. He quit before I did, strolling out the office one day shouting how it had all gotten too corporate. Kate went from one insurance firm to the next and ended up in southern Spain. It seems she’s doing ok. And no doubt, still bouncing off walls. And Carly became a very pretty young mother last September. Well done her.

Roll on 2031.