Most helpful positive review
We do like to be beside the seaside
on 10 June 2013
There's no denying that many Brits have forsaken our traditional seaside holiday resorts like Scarborough, Bournemouth or Blackpool and instead jet off to the sun abroad. I'm convinced this is purely a marriage of convenience though and if the UK could guarantee summers of constant sunshine many wouldn't give another thought to going to the Costa's. Okay, maybe I am a little biased but I really love being beside the British seaside. Because of this I just had to read this book, in which John Osborne travels around the coast of England and Wales, taking in various places and looking at the things that make up the great British seaside holiday.
Whilst he doesn't possess the wit of Bill Bryson nor does he have the perception of Paul Theroux (who have also written about their travels around the coast), this is nevertheless an extremely engaging account of Osborne's journey. It is not intended to be a complete guide to all our seaside towns but most of the main ones are included and some, like Holkham, that aren't quite so well known. There are one or two surprising omissions though and I was a little peeved that my personal favourite, Whitby, isn't included although Osborne does mention that Whitby is a favourite of his as well. No doubt other readers will be similarly disappointed that their own favourites have been missed out too.
As well as writing the places, Osborne also investigates the sights and sounds of the British holiday. For example he visits a museum on the Isle of Wight which is devoted to cheeky seaside postcards, witnesses a sandcastle competition and attends a Punch and Judy convention, although this is in Central London rather than the coast of Devon or Cornwall.
When I had finished this book I could not help but think that whilst this is a good book, Osborne missed the chance to make it even better. The fact that no seaside towns in Scotland or Northern Ireland are included makes it seem a little incomplete and, as I wrote earlier, there are some seaside towns that are not visited that really should have been. Also there are times when I felt that Osborne wasn't quite judgemental enough. Perhaps because of this I am now re-reading Paul Theroux's classic Kingdom by the Sea [ASIN:0140071814 The Kingdom by the Sea: A Journey Around the Coast of Great Britain].