On our way into Uni this morning, Em and I were talking about the way that summer seems to have flown by. We're now in the third week of August, and are both toiling over drafts of our chapters in order to get them to our Supervisors so that they have time to look at them before the start of the new term when all hell will kick off. Again. Actually, I'm quite looking forward to the undergrads returning - I have a theory that the main reason that the University lets the campus to the language schools during the summer vacation is to make the academic staff and postgrads really appreciate the undergrads who are, in comparison to over excited, hormonal European teenagers, lovely. But, don't tell them I said that.
Maybe it's because I'm getting old - although Em clearly isn't - but I seem to have missed this summer. The weather has been rubbish - although not as bad as last year, or the year when Water Gala was rained off in Seasidetown (the winds were so high, the marquees kept lifting off the gardens) - and when we left Seasidetown this morning, it wasn't exactly bustling with families making their way to the beach weighed down by windbreakers, picnic hampers, over excited children and grumpy looking fathers.
Last Wednesday, I took the bus into DesertedTown - the next town along the coast from here - in order to take my Council Tax certificate into the the Council Offices to make sure that I don't have to pay Council Tax for the next financial year. It wasn't a bad day weatherwise, although I was glad of my fleece (which is totally normal for a day by the English coast), so I decided to walk down to the new Art Gallery that has been built at great public expense - somewhat controversially. Before going in to get my fix of Culture, I walked along the harbour arm and looked back at the beach. It was 11.00am on a day in the middle of the summer holidays. I know that DesertedTown is largely closed, and the rest covered in a mixture of despondency, seagull shit and vomit, but I was surprised at just how empty the beach was. It's a beautiful beach - golden sands, safe bathing, Council provided lifeguards, deckchairs for hire, and a small cafe providing refresments - but there were only about 20 people on a beach that can easily cater for 500. Where were the interminable beach cricket matches, or the sandcastle building masses?
Reading the media reports about the state of the economy, it would appear that many people are opting to "staycation", but where were they? For that matter, where were the kids of DesertedTown? It's very odd. Other years in this part of the world we have seen the usual numbers of daytrippers, the DFLs, and people enjoying holidays by the sea - no matter what the weather, and it's rare to see a beach where you can get more than a fag paper between groups of visitors. This year just seems to be more 'grey' and empty than usual.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, the hoards of people weren't in the Gallery. It's a perfectly nice building (from the inside), with amazing views of the sea, and very few exhibits. Which was puzzling. In the main, I quite liked what was there, but it was a bit like nouvelle cuisine. Nicely presented, a little pretentious, but you wouldn't go there if you were hungry.
I love this part of the world - I've decided. I came back here primarily to go to University, and I never thought that I'd want to stay. The people who live in this part of the world are, in the main, proud of our little part of England, and certainly they're as nice as any I've met. And, I think that this is the reason that I feel so sad when I see DesertedTown in this state, as well as FadedTown on the other side of SeasideTown.
But, it has been a strange summer.