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4.4 out of 5 stars19
4.4 out of 5 stars
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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].
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on 12 April 2014
fter a summer spent in Scarborough he starts to reminisce about his childhood spent on British seaside holidays. Osborne is not bothered by the Costa del Whatever, and decides to spend his minimal budget on trips to the beach.

He travel to beaches and resorts (is that the right word) in the different parts of the country, and whilst he is there remembers the things that he loved like beach cricket, 2p shove machines, a visit to a pier and staying in a B&B. He has a go on a zimmer frame simulator, gets slightly terrified at a Punch and Judy convention. Oh and he has a 99 flake. Of course.

Some of the places that he visits have seen better days. He meets the people at Beachy Head that in some cases are the last chance that some people have before ending it all, and goes to a saucy postcard museum on the Isle of Wight. He visits some of the sandcastle competitions that take place, and hears the conspiracy theories as to why Brighton pier burnt down.

I have read some of his other books before, and thought that Radio Head was the better one. This is almost a good as Radio Head, as he writes with such enthusiasm for the beach and the seaside holiday that he brings the memories flooding back. Makes me want go to Swanage Sunday now.
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on 14 August 2015
I am completely baffled as to why others have reviewed this book so highly because I found it shallow, humourless and overwhelmingly negative. He goes to Eastbourne - one of the most attractive resorts on the south coast - but doesn't mention the town; he just goes on and on about the adjacent suicide spot of Beachy Head. At Great Yarmouth he writes (at length!!) only about the grotty and empty amusement arcades. At Clacton-on-Sea he stays in a cheap and nasty boarding house (why??), spends two days walking around in pouring rain and hardly mentions the town at all. By page 150 I gave up and thought about visiting Beachy Head..........................I'm seriously glad that I got this book from a library rather than paying for it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 12 May 2013
A lovely book as are all his written work.Check out his poetry if your not familiar.
You wont be disappointed.
Easy to read.Not to heavy.
A good writer.
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on 9 May 2013
In an era when we all get nostalgic about youtube video clips, to actually set off and retrace the steps of his own, and other families' holiday experiences, and couple them with bitter-sweet observations about suicide hot-spots, 2nd Home owners and the sad decay of the British seaside resort, Osborne has written a masterpiece of travelogue non-fiction.
You don't need the sunshine to enjoy this book; you don't even need to leave the house!
But I bet one or two of you get out and enjoy our wonderful coastline once you've read this.........
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on 29 August 2014
As a baby boomer, this was just the tonic of nostalgia I needed. I'm so fed up with airports and all-inclusive holidays, and John Osborne has transported me to where I truly wanted to be, the great British seaside.
It couldn't have got off to a better start in Scarborough, where my gran used to live. We travelled down the east coast to the south and back up along the west coast including Wales, to the north of England again.
Great read, and I agree with another reviewer who said there is plenty of scope for Volume Two.
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on 8 July 2015
It is interesting and I can dip in and out of it. By the way Hastings is NOT in Kent. It is in East Sussex.I don't know if Mr. Osborne has visited the Jerwood recently but it has three very good exhibitions running at the moment. He shouldn't base a whole town on the opinions of a few individuals.
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This is a well written account of the author's travels around the key seaside resorts of the country, interlaced with personal stories and little anecdotes of people he met on the way. A gentle and nostalgic read for me, as I can remember similar family holidays from my own childhood.
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on 10 May 2013
I'm a big fan of all things seaside and this book did not disappoint. It's really lovely and would make a perfect present for anyone, regardless of their demographic. It's accessibly while still being insightful, entertaining as well as informing.
Kirsty Jakes.
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on 11 July 2013
I had heard the author on radio 4 and enjoyed it, I liked his sense of humour, then I saw this book reviewed in Saga magazine. I did enjoy it very much, but I don't like bad language, which stops me giving it 5 stars!
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