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.
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.
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.)
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.”
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!
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.
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.
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.