Monthly Archives: December 2016

Sandbanks: deserted in December

This gig is my second “tour of duty”in the area. I write then as an accidental “resident” of the Sandbanks in December. I notice myself falling into a diurnal rhythm. A repeat breakfast from one narrow section of the buffet. Drinking fruit tea. Going for the same run three mornings in a row.  Most peculiar.

The latter was averted this morning by walking instead of jogging. (I paid attention to what my fine athletic physique was telling me . IE: Woke up aching all over. Don’t run, you fool.) And what a splendid morning for a stroll on the beach: 12C, still and glassy waters. Sunglasses donned I head out toward the Haven. The client requires me to attend their evening shift so what else can I do with my mornings?

A tractor grooms the beach, back and forth, so it looks pristine and the only thing that marks me out as an interloper is the absence of a pooch. The beach is laughably quiet and would be totally empty if not for the dog walkers. (Unlike the town centre and shopping parks which are thronging with retail hell.) It’s also clear that every hound is having an absolute ball.

Note to self, come back as a Sandbanks dawg in the next life.

Out and about at this more sedate pace I reflect on the odd nature of this neighbourhood. As is well known, there’s no shortage of money here. Ker and indeed, ching. Some of the properties are cartoonish: their scale, their use of lavish materials, their design language and their, well, egomania. Some properties scream “look at me“. This is point is empahsised by the occasional 1930s detached house which look like a misplaced model village exhibit amongst the uber-pads. The other thing that strikes me about these monster des-res is that so many of them are dormant. No signs of life: no lights, no Christmas decorations, no one enjoying their dream house. The only activity seems to be from tradespeople whose vans abound. Presumably they are busily maintaining the properties in 100% shape for the 2 days that their time poor owners can spend there.


Nuclear attack surprises Sandbanks dog walking fraternity


On my way back into the reception area I – literally – bump into Peter Duncan of Blue Peter fame. There are many people milling ahead of a kiddies Christmas party. I make a quick staircase to my room.


Damn, should have asked him for a Blue Peter badge.

To temper my disappointment, it’s a treat to read on a sunny balcony. Not only that, the Vitamin D clearly helps my grey matter. (Concise Crossword NAILED.)

[Sigh] It’s been a week of “what to do?” fresh air mornings and long, long, long office bound evenings. Will be almost strange to go back to “real life” in Wiltshire.

I wonder if the myriad of Grand Designs properties will be utilised during the festive period, because most of them show zero signs of life…

What a waste.



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Poole if you think it’s over

It’s not that I actively dislike Christmas-fest. Far from it. It’s the needless pressure that it brings. Rush rush rush. Hurry hurry hurry. Get this finished, get that finalised, work super-hard to meet that deadline so that… what exactly? In my experience, most of it will still be there after the break.

Thus it is with mixed feelings I find myself on Sandbanks the week before Crimble. Mixed because I have a balcony room with uninterrupted sea views. Mixed because the view is pre-dawn/post-sunset dark every time I get to see it. Mixed because the client is staffed by well meaning, affable folk. Mixed because this family room is empty all day and the gang are otherwise engaged. Mixed because I’m getting paid to be here. Mixed because I’m a bit traveled-out.

As regular readers may know I enjoy what I do. Even more I adore the by-product: travel on someone else’s dollar. I am (perversely) proud of travelling frugally whether it’s my spend or not. Sometimes, I really should just get a cab instead of convoluted public transporting.

Making the most of a trip is my unwritten mantra. This afternoon work forced a stop at 15.00. Poole town centre – more than a touch of the zombie movie extras let’s be honest – is full of 110% shopping commitment. Yet we can shop online in our jim-jams, but a wet walk in the dark? I wager the beach will be empty.

Dodging the undead I hightail it back to the lodgings and don the running kit. Moments later I am running on a blissfully quiet beach in still, cold, life affirming light rain pattering on the glassy blue waters. [READER TIP: Edit out the gasping, bald, red faced, sweaty jogging Welshman. Try to picture a Baywatch-esque surf-side athletic lope. Or better still focus on the Oystercatchers and Herring Gulls along the foreshore. As water swishes gently on the groynes.]

I pinch myself: what a privilege to be here.

Why do we do this to ourselves every year? No, not the running. I mean why work until the 11th hour on a certain day and then all get stuck in traffic in the freezing dark? It’s not the same everywhere. For instance, the Danes work hard but if it’s not done – it has been put to me – they stop. They cycle home, have a life and return refreshed to box it off the following day. [Clearly what “it” is makes a difference: this isn’t the case during heart surgery or aircraft landings, but the healthy attitude is that most things can wait.]

My view: The answer is partly found our capacity for “binge” which is surely a collective national talent. Hurrah, a British trait to be celebrated. “Barman! 6 pints of Stella per person and accompanying Jager Bombs: quick, before Brexit. Well, okay, then before closing time. It’s 3PM? What’s wrong with you?! Bring a round of tequilla slammers NOW! Time waits for no man.” Then several hours later we binge on A&E facilities.

We binge on work too. Regrettably I include myself in this and – frankly – this has taken it’s toll in 2016. As summer merged into autumn and the nights drew in I had inadvertently built a crescendo into my December with that heroic last (work) act on the 16th. Spent, I would collapse into a woolly sweater, light the wood burner and get hygge with it.

Then a whole week of work landed on the 19th.

Aww crap.

I am needlessly weary and grouchy. I am tired. I am – face it boy – getting old. I need a travel-free break.

It wasn’t meant to be like this. I read BUSY, I cut out various foods. I get appropriate(ish) sleep. I tried to go Danish. (By which I mean I bought some reading glasses from Denmark to gather some of the vibe but succeeded mainly in making myself look like a twat.) Then the exercise gave out because there was no time, then the diet, the sleep…

At this point – although it’s a bit late in the blog – may I offer a shout out to those who are on “shifts” and “call out” over the festivities.

And then may I quickly point out that we are in control of our own careers. Don’t like the hours you work? Get a different job. (If you are suffering from FOMO, you are only missing out on the event which overblown/hyped/exaggerated because it has all this needless pressure around it. I think that’s a modern definition of irony?) I am fortunate that I know my diary commitments are my own doing and I am making steps to avoid this happening again. (REQUEST: If you hear me saying “NO” then please heartily thump me on the back in congratulations and not in the face.)

So despite any humbuggery, Messy Crimble one and all. Look after yourselves.

My last week on the road will be at an uncharacteristically measured pace ensuring that when I – finally – return to the homestead for the big day I am not a dribbling husk. Nay! A super-chef I will be. Willing and able to carve sprouts, slice gravy and argue with local vegetarians about the turkey. When a pig in its blanket gets lodged in a throat we will heartily toast Dr Heimlich . Then, glasses drained we may attend to the diner who has turned blue.


Mr B

PS: Don’t even get me started on NYE.

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