Sure, let’s go to the Bournemouth Air Festival yet again

Every year in August, Piers drags me to the beach to watch fancy airplanes zip back and forth in the sky.

 

Sheylara at the beach

 

The Bournemouth Air Festival is the same every year. Same planes, same air performances, same crowd (and by crowd I mean omg CROWD).

 

The CROWD

 

There are other attractions such as military and vehicular exhibits, stage and street performances and fireworks, but I’m not really big on those things either.

I’ve gone to this event three years running now, Piers probably a lot more since he’s lived in Bournemouth all his life. And, still, he keeps going back.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that. At least, I have to admire his dedication. It’s just that planes do not particularly interest me, so I don’t really need to watch the same thing over and over again.

 

The Eurofighter Typhoon

 

“But honey!” said Piers, “The Eurofighter Typhoon is flying this year. We HAVE to see it!”

“Why do we HAVE to see it?”

“Because it’s LOUD and it’s FAST!”

Right, of course. A perfectly sound reason why we HAVE to see it.

Wait a minute.

“All planes ARE loud and fast, you nuthead!”

“Not as loud and fast as the Eurofighter!!!”

Yeah, yeah.

Never mind we’d already seen it two years ago at the very same place at the very same show, and it does nothing but fly back and forth, up and down.

 

The Eurofighter Typhoon

 

I was more interested in this little boy flying his own Typhoon while the real Typhoon flew in the sky.

 

Boy with Eurofighter Typhoon

 

He was very cute doing it!

Well, I do enjoy watching the Red Arrows because they have fancy formations and colourful smoke, so I don’t mind so much going all the way to the beach to see them. Still, it’s kind of the same every year and I’m not sure I want to watch them every single year for the rest of my life, which increasingly seems to be my fate.

 

The Red Arrows

 

The Red Arrows

 

We saw the Red Arrows last year, too . This photo was taken last year:

 

The Red Arrows

 

And the year before.

I took these photos from my window at home:

 

The Red Arrows

 

The Red Arrows

 

We can actually watch the air show from our flat (although with limited visibility). So there is really no reason to go to the beach to watch it every year, is there?

The air show is on four days a year, with a different lineup of planes each day, so we have to make a few different trips to the beach to see the specific planes that Piers wants to see.

 

Silly Piers

 

Silly Piers.

Actually, many people make a day of it at the beach with their beach umbrellas, chairs, towels, tents and windscreens.

It’s nuts but it looks very fun. Get a few windscreens together and you can partition off a private little enclosure for yourself and your friends. Have an all-day picnic or barbeque. Bake in the sun.

I can totally understand the draw.

 

Did I mention crowd?

 

Did I mention baking?

 

Unfortunately, that sort of thing is not my past-time of choice because I don’t like to burn. Which IS unfortunate because I miss out on a lot of fun, but which is also very sensible because I’m protecting my skin.

Which explains the silly hat I was wearing.

 

Sheylara's silly hat

 

And this is me all prepared for my Mallorca holiday:

 

Sheylara's sunscreen

 

These are absolutely the best sunscreen ever because they are non-greasy and non-sticky, easy to apply and don’t smell disgusting. In fact, they have a very mild and pleasant fragrance.

The only problem is that I have to buy them online and they are quite expensive.

But I’m digressing. Mostly because I’m done talking about the Bournemouth Air Festival, (which IS a very good event, to be objective about it). So I think I shall end with a small anecdote.

Heard at the festival, the host interviewing some random people at the beach:

Host: You guys come to the festival every year?

Guy: Yes, we love the Red Arrows.

Host: Which plane are you looking forward to seeing this year?

Badum tish!

The sky is bluer on the other side

No words can describe what an amazing day I had on Tuesday. But I’ll try.

It’s just that, some things you have to experience yourself.

A friend was just telling me how beautiful and romantic and awesome Paris is and all I was capable of thinking was, “Aww, that’s nice.” But I’m sure my heart didn’t well up with awe the way his probably did when he was there experiencing it in person.

But I guess that’s life. We try to experience some and we imagine the rest.

Anyway, my companion for the day, my mystery date, was a Singaporean girl who’s studying in London now. Let’s call her Limin because, well, that’s her name! lol.

 

Limin and Sheylara

 

We’ve never met, online or offline, but she reads my blog and, last week, dropped me a note saying she wouldn’t mind making the two-hour trip to Bournemouth to meet up with me and catch the sights around here.

I’m so glad she did because she’s really sweet and I really enjoyed getting lost with her in a place neither of us are quite familiar with. We got along really well and seem to have a lot in common. That’s always nice, isn’t it?

It was very sunny on Tuesday, the sky a rich, deep blue so that everything in town sparkled. It was a great day for being outdoors.

 

Some park

 

I know what I had said about grey skies in England being perfect, and I still think that. But the blue sky here is another realm of amazing. I stopped being in the England of my imagination and got transported to a mysterious magical kingdom.

Okay it’s kind of like this. Gloomy, cloudy skies feed my artistic soul and inspire in me all kinds of emotions that make me feel in touch with my inner self and with nature. Sunny, blue skies make me feel like a bubble of sunshine wanting to burst out to share joy and cheer and communion with my fellow human beings.

So, either one is good for me.

(Well, there is also the fact that I usually try to avoid the sun because I hate getting a tan. The Singapore sun, especially, is brutal. So grey skies hold a special appeal for me in that regard.)

Anyway.

Our day started at 11 am when I met Limin at the train station. She had brought me a gift, fresh-baked cookies from London. What a sweetie-pie!

 

Sheylara and cookies!

 

Around her neck slung a Nikon which she had just acquired and was eager to practise on. NATURALLY, I BECAME HER GUINEA PIG.

She was enthusiastically going, “Oh, stand there!” the entire day. But when I offered to take over her camera so she could be in the photos, too, she kept declining. That explains why you’ll see many photos of me and few of her.

But thanks to her obsessive photo-taking, I have a lot more photos to fill this post with!

Our first stop of the day was Castlepoint Shopping Centre at the edge of Bournemouth, which we had to get to by bus from the train station. It’s not a mall like we’re used to, but more like a long row of giant shophouses surrounding a huge car park.

 

Castlepoint Shopping Centre

 

Castlepoint Shopping Centre

 

Castlepoint Shopping Centre

 

The weather was good. Cool, slightly windy. I was even able to remove my jacket after a bit of walking around. Perfect shopping weather.

I bought some stuff at H&M and Next and decided that we shouldn’t spend all of this nice day shopping, so we took a bus right back to Bournemouth Town Centre. Limin wanted to have lunch by the beach!

But before that, we walked back to the apartment to drop off our shopping. There’s a very small park between the town centre and Piers’ apartment. I find it really delightful walking through it, even during grey days.

The air here is so cool and refreshing, the birds chirp so delightfully in the trees and there’s just so much space and greenery (even though half the trees are bare and flowers aren’t in bloom during winter) it makes your spirit feel light.

But yesterday was nuts. The sun was out, the birds came out of hiding, and people were walking everywhere.

 

Little park

 

Little park

 

Little park

 

Little park

 

In the apartment, we took more photos. I think Limin is in love with her camera or something. Or else she’s, like, trying to document every single second of her life.

Or maybe because she was so delighted with Piers’ apartment. I think she likes it as much as I do!

 

Piers' apartment

 

Piers' apartment

 

After the quick stop home, we had to walk through another park, a much bigger one this time, to get to the beach.

So so lovely the sun was. We bumped into an elderly English couple who had come to Bournemouth for a few days to, I dunno, sightsee or something.

We helped each other take photos and had a nice chat about the weather and stuff like where we came from and what we were doing in Bournemouth. I really enjoyed that. I kind of miss this from when I was in Australia, the way strangers would just stop in the streets to have a chat.

 

Another park

 

Another park

 

Then, we came to the pier. Before we even hit sand and water, Limin and I were dazzled. The sun and sky were most amazing. I’ve never felt so buoyant about, well, the sun and sky, in my life. It was like stepping right into a photo postcard.

 

Another park

 

The beach was even more dazzling. Despite the chilly wind (it was actually painful to take my hands out of my pockets and expose them to the cold), I fell in love with the place instantly. Despite somewhat freezing, I wanted to stay there for as long as I could.

The sun was literally glaring into our eyes as we walked down the beach so I had to wear my sunnies. Limin didn’t bring hers. She was so funny, saying, “I NEVER EXPECTED THERE TO BE SUN!!”

Apparently, you will hardly ever see any sun in London during winter. (Or does that extend to other seasons, too? I don’t know.) She was ill-prepared.

It was just unbelievable, the sky a pretty shade of cerulean, the fluffy white clouds, the unbelievably soft, fine sand, gentle waves crashing at the shore, the sea almost blue and sparkling in the sun.

I asked Limin, “Do we ever get skies like this in Singapore?”

She said, “No.”

“Why not?” I demanded. “Why not?! Don’t we all share the same sky?”

“Well,” she said, “The sky is always bluer on the other side.”

Wise words.

Many people were out enjoying the weather, having picnics on the sand, or strolling along the coast or playing frisbee with dogs. You wonder why they don’t have to be at work. The mood was uplifting.

Okay, my words can’t do justice. So, photos!

 

Bournemouth Beach

 

Bournemouth Beach

 

Bournemouth Beach

 

Bournemouth Beach

 

Bournemouth Beach

 

Bournemouth Beach

 

Bournemouth Beach

 

Bournemouth Beach

 

Bournemouth Beach

 

Bournemouth Beach

 

Bournemouth Beach

 

Bournemouth Beach

 

Bournemouth Beach

 

Well, that’s the lot!

We had a ridiculously expensive lunch at Aruba, the restaurant overlooking the beach.

Limin had ribs while I had fish and chips.

Piers had told me that he doesn’t really like fish and chips because the bones annoy him. And, I was like, “Fish and chips got bones meh?” (But in slightly different words since I try not to speak Singlish with ang mohs.)

Well, the fish and chips I had at Aruba was my first in England and YES THERE WERE BONES IN IT. I had to keep picking them out my mouth. I’m scared to try anymore now.

It wasn’t too tasty, either. It was beer-battered. I guess I prefer normal batter.

Okay, I’ll give the normal ones in town one more try before I come to a firm conclusion.

The ribs were awesome, though. So very tender and juicy with soft yummy fats around the cartilage. They were also gigantic, so Limin heaped a too-generous portion of her food onto my plate.

 

Bournemouth Beach

 

Bournemouth Beach

 

Bournemouth Beach

 

Comparing my giant fries with Limin’s normal-sized ones, it was very funny.

Our bill came up to £31. Well, £34 (S$70) after adding the obligatory tip. Crazy, right! We only had two mains and two normal drinks!

Limin insisted on buying me lunch and wouldn’t hear of my protests. We argued a bit over who’s host. I claimed I was hosting and so should pay cos she came to Bournemouth to visit me. She claimed she was the host because I came to England where she’s been staying for almost three years.

Anyway, she won because I wasn’t assertive enough. I need to learn how to assert myself more in times like this. Seriously!

But, anyway, it was very nice of her, and I felt really bad after doing a conversion and realised how much our lunch cost in Singapore dollars.

After our lunch and stroll at the beach, we only had time left to take a quick walk to the famous St. Stephen’s Church, built in 1880.

 

St. Stephen's Church

 

St. Stephen's Church

 

So beautiful.

There wasn’t much we could do there except take a few photos. It was closed and no one was there, although the main gate was open so we could walk inside and admire the surroundings.

And then we had to get back.

Piers’ apartment is between the church and the train station, so we went back to the apartment to rest for a bit before walking to the train station for Limin to catch the 6 pm train home.

 

 

So, I’ve been thinking about it. It’s really inconceivable to me that people actually live in a place like Bournemouth. How do they deal with so much beauty in their lives?

Bournemouth is a resort, a place where people go for a holiday, leaving all worries at home. So, if you live here, where do you go for your holidays?? Boggles my mind.

But that’s an ironic question considering that I’m here only because Piers and his parents (born and bred in Bournemouth – okay I’m not sure about his parents but Piers was) are gone off elsewhere in the world on their separate holidays.

Goodness knows why they need to go away for holidays when they’ve already got a holiday at their doorstep.

Okay, guess I’m just being silly.

I’ll leave you now with the photos and be back with loads more in days to come.

A look around southern England

My first breakfast in England was a full English breakfast at this bar called The Slug and Lettuce.

 

The Slug and Lettuce

 

I love the wacky names of English pubs/bars/taverns. They’re always The Something or The Something and Something. They always seem so random and never make any sense, but I find that very endearing.

It’s especially exciting for me to experience traditional English culture because the medieval fantasy games I’ve played and books I’ve read are always based off that culture.

Being in England is almost like being in a magical, fantasy world, a fairy tale come alive. So much history has been retained even in this science-age millennium and I am filled with wonder experiencing it all.

Well, I suppose my breakfast was quite modern but it was no less delicious.

 

The Slug and Lettuce

 

By Singapore restaurant standards, I think this is quite cheap at £4.95 (S$10.15) and includes tea or coffee. It’s massive. I couldn’t finish it. Neither could Piers.

 

The view from The Slug and Lettuce:

Bournemouth Town Centre

 

You see those cathedral spires in the far left of the photo above? That’s an old church that’s been converted into a disco. It’s really weird, but it’s cool. Except one of the posters out front looks a bit sleazy, spoiling it a bit.

 

Bournemouth

 

The inside is nice, quite funky, maybe a bit scary. I took a picture but it was very dark so I had to screw a bit with the brightness and contrast, so, well, it’s a bad picture but you get an idea.

 

Bournemouth

 

I had expected a lot of rain in England. That’s what people have been telling me all my life, that it rains in England all the time. That didn’t bother me. I brought my cutesy frilly umbrella (from Seoul) and looked forward to using it.

But it hasn’t rained at all so far. There were just a few moments of light drizzling that ended as soon as they started. And the temperature has been hovering around 10°C, which is awesome in my opinion.

So, when I was having breakfast with Piers and we looked out the window and the sky was a bit grey and overcast, what Piers saw was shit weather. What I saw was England. The gloomy sky made it more English, more authentic, and absolutely lovely.

I said, with a tinge of delirious bliss in my voice, “The weather looks excellent and perfect!” and Piers looked at me like I had come from outer space.

 

We took a walk around town after breakfast. Piers was quite concerned with showing me places where I could entertain myself or get supplies while he’s away. He even gave me surprise pop quizzes. “Okay which way is home from here?”

 

Bournemouth Beach

 

I tried to take it all in but got horribly confused after a while. I was too busy enjoying the scenery, in any case.

Within walking distance is the beach. A long, literally endless, stretch.

Okay, it’s not really endless. It’s seven miles (11.3 km) but that’s endless enough for me.

 

Bournemouth Beach

 

Of course, it’s winter, so the beach is practically empty and the sea is a dull grey-green with no sunlight to reflect. But I thought it was great. It was frightfully windy (a toddler could get blown away, I think) and the waves wouldn’t stop crashing at the shore.

I love waves even if I’m not so much into beach culture. They sound nice. But I’d love to see the beach here during summer when the sea is sparkling blue. The sand is so soft and fine I wouldn’t mind lounging in it.

 

Bournemouth Beach

 

We paid a visit to the house I was originally supposed to babysit. It’s Piers’ parents’ house and it’s beautiful, outside and inside. It’s like a typical English home I often read about in books or see in pictures and movies. I couldn’t quite believe I was actually in one.

 

Bournemouth

 

It’s a bit disappointing that I won’t get to stay in it but, at the same time, it’s also a relief because I think I might be quite frightened staying in such a big house on my own. I imagine it would be quite scary at night.

Or maybe it wouldn’t be so bad with Basil around. Basil the dog is so cute, friendly and affectionate. He followed us around the house as Piers showed me all the rooms.

 

Bournemouth

 

Bournemouth

 

Bournemouth

 

Basil the dog

 

Basil the dog

 

Basil the dog

 

What a cutie!

Piers’ parents live in the neighbouring town of Poole, also a resort town boasting beaches, harbours and quays.

And swans.

I’m not much of a bird person (more a dog lover) but swans are just so beautiful.

I was near enough to actually touch them, but Piers said they might get aggressive so I didn’t.

They didn’t spook and waddle away when I went near to photograph them. I loved that.

 

Poole

 

Poole

 

You can drive right up to the edge of the water to feed the swans and the other birds. There was this flock of birds hovering around a van where a mother and her kid were feeding them.

It was so awesome to watch.

 

Poole

 

There was also a bunch of them standing in the carpark looking out at the swans in the water. They were standing in some kind of strange formation, unmoving for ages. It was really weird but fascinating.

 

Poole

 

I would have stayed there longer but it was really cold because the wind was blowing nonstop. The wind chill felt like about 0°C and it was hard to stand outside for too long.

 

Poole

 

Another stretch of beach. Those cute little houses are apparently beach huts which you can rent and put your stuff in or whatever.

 

Poole

 

It’s really quite fun driving through the town. You can stop just about anywhere that looks interesting, hop out of the car for a bit to admire the scenery.

 

Poole

 

I think Poole is smaller than Bournemouth, so we ran out of things to see after a while. Next stop was Christchurch, even smaller than Poole, but so beautiful and rich in history.

 

Christchurch

 

It was starting to turn dark by the time we arrived, making things look a bit creepy but I loved it.

We visited the ruins of Christchurch Castle, built in the 1100s. There wasn’t much to see, just two crumbly stone walls which were once part of a tower.

 

Christchurch

 

But there’s a great view at the top.

 

Christchurch

 

Away in the distance, you can see the Christchurch Priory. It’s huge and so beautiful and surrounded by graveyards, which gives the place a melancholic feel.

All these old buildings! I could just about die happy here.

 

Christchurch

 

Christchurch

 

Christchurch

 

Christchurch

 

Christchurch

 

We came across some medieval stocks along the way. Criminals’ hands or feet (sometimes the head also) were locked into these things in public places. Passers-by were allowed to abuse the criminals physically and verbally to humiliate them.

 

Christchurch

 

Christchurch

 

Haha. It was very tempting to abuse Piers while he was incarcerated but then I decided not to because I needed him to drive me home.

Anyway, Piers is now in Bulgaria to ski so I’m all by my own lonesome in England for a week. Yay!

I’m not sure what I’d do. I might even stay indoors all week because his apartment is nice and cosy.

I asked him to bag a Bulgarian vampire for me as a souvenir but I’m not sure if he’s having any luck finding any.

Oh, I just Wiki’ed Bulgaria and saw that the Bulgarian president looks a bit like Simon Cowell.

 

President Georgi Parvanov

 

LOL.

Sorry, is that very rude? Sorry. Anyway I didn’t mean any disrespect. I think they’re both very good-looking. =D

Ima go now. Past my bedtime. Weather makes me sleepy. Update again soon!