Extreme English: Wind-screens

English beach gear

This is probably as anti-Baywatch as it can get.

Instead of umbrellas, beaches here are dotted with those colourful wind-breakers. As warm or sunny as it can get here, the wind-chill factor cancels out any heat available and so everyone huddles behind wind-screens and half-tents.

I’ve never seen them before until I set foot on this balmy country. I actually thought they were for privacy – which makes the English even more odd…privacy, on a beach?! Heheh.

Speaking of beaches…

Southwest Trains was doing an August deal of £10 return tickets on most of its routes, so one Saturday we decided to head down to the town of Poole, to see what is reputedly England’s (and some say Britain’s) best beach!

Sandbanks beach

What makes the beach remarkable is that it actually has….sand!

Lots of the beaches in this country are pebbly or rocky, and to have a beach that is made of real sand, stretches out for miles, and have clear, blue, clean waters is just extraordinary.

The beach stretches out for as far as I could see, linking the beach of Bournemouth with the Sandbanks Beach of Poole, which has a sort of faux Miami feel to it with expensive beach-front properties with floor-to-ceiling sliding doors-cum-windows.

It wasn’t scorching hot and we had to brace ourselves for getting into the water and played frisbee to warm up. Reading that summer water temperatures here is about the same as winter water temperatures in southern Australia also didn’t help!

Red Arrows

The train journey down was the most packed we’ve ever seen here, with people standing in the aisles and doorways, and still more people trying to push on.

When most of the train drained out at Bournemouth station, we were very glad we decided to go two stops further to Poole instead. But only on the beach did we realise why the crowds were there – the Bournemouth Air Festival was on!

Luckily, we were close enough to Bournemouth to still see the show and yet far enough to escape the crowds.

All sorts of old-fashioned military and fighter jets dashed up and down and through the clouds, the noise was brilliantly deafening and I barely managed to capture one photo of the Red Arrows as they passed right over us…a definite unexpected bonus to a little beach trip!


As the day wound down and it got too chilly, we shared a taxi with an amusing local couple back to Poole. Truth be told, the town of Poole is fairly unremarkable, and the journey from the town to the beach is a bit of a chore with buses running only once every hour (unless you’re too lazy and willing to fork out on taxis like we did), but the tourist office was brilliant and very friendly and helpful, and the much less crowded Sandbanks beach certainly beats Bournemouth!

The Antelope Inn - Sunday Roast

And if you do find yourself at Poole on a Sunday, The Antelope Inn does the best Sunday Roast I’ve ever had. A choice of roast beef, pork or lamb is cut for you, then you queue up buffet-style to pile on all the carrots, mash, cabbage, peas, brocolli, cauliflower and yorkshire pudding you want. Then you drown the contents of your plate in as much gravy as you dare – then try carrying that plate back to your alfresco table outside on a wooden deck under bright sunshine…..mmmmmmmm….


2 thoughts on “Extreme English: Wind-screens

  1. I love that you wrote this post! So it is not just me. My sister and I crack up whenever we go to British beaches cos of the windscreens and the hammers and the tents. It is hilarious. And it seems as if they all need to cordon off their little patch and have boundaries… so cute and British.

  2. I know! On any other crowded beach in the world, you’ll see lots and lots of umbrellas. Here….it’s lots and lots of wierd blue things standing in the sand. Like you say, it’s like setting up your private little room or something. I couldn’t figure out what they were for when I first saw them!

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