Our town through others’ eyes

We were lucky enough to have family visit last weekend. We met on the seafront and then walked along the promenade towards the Grand Pier. We spent an hour or so on the pier and then we visited one of the best ice-cream shops in the country. We walked past the Winter Gardens which now belongs to Weston College and houses the law and professional services academy, as well as still maintaining the traditional ballroom, function rooms and restaurant.

We crossed back to the promenade and continued round to the end of Weston Bay which used to be known as Glentworth Bay, round to the marine lake, a seawater pool constructed to retain water when the tide goes out its long, long way, so children and others can swim and play on the little sandy beach which has been created there. There used to be a tiny island just off the coast, the original causeway has now been filled in with a road across so although still called Knightstone Island, in fact it isn’t.

We walked round the little lake and then walked back along the prom again, looking now south, to where we could just see Uphill Church on the hill above our village at the south end of the bay. We returned to our cars and then set off home for a pleasant evening together before they set off to visit more friends.

It had been a very enjoyable day… and I began to think about how impressed our cousins were by our town. OK, they only saw the roads in from the motorway and all along the sea front, but they live on the east coast and often go to seaside towns along the Norfolk coast, so they understand that the there is more to a place than just what is there for the tourists and holiday makers. We told them about the new housing in the town, and the new employment opportunities, and new families moving into our rapidly expanding town.

Just off the M5 motorway Weston is within easy reach of Devon, Dorset and Cornwall, or head north and in less than two hours you’re in the heart of  Birmingham or east along the M4 and you’re in London, cross the River Severn and you’re in Wales. We told them about the local Somerset attractions, Cheddar Gorge, Glastonbury, Wookey Hole – and other places of interested such as Stonehenge arren’t that far away.

As we walked along, the paths and roads were clear of rubbish (apart from what careless holiday-makers dropped) and there was a chap with bin on wheels, his brush and spade and litter-picker sweeping up and picking up others’ mess. There were donkeys on the beach, children making sand castles, there was interesting brickwork set into the prom itself, rocky seats to relax on, stone seawalls (full of fossils, the young cousin told me)  old buildings, the Thatched Cottage which dates back to the 1770’s, Georgian buildings, Victorian buildings, Edwardian buildings and everything modern from then on!

At the end of the town, the land rises up to Worlebury Hill and properties are built along the south side looking over the bay. They looked so attractive in the afternoon sun, as did the town itself as we strolled along. There were excellent restaurants, terrific fish and chip places, first-rate ice-cream shops, a pier which had everything a tourist could want (including really scary funfair rides, a tea-room, bars and much more) ad of course, donkeys.

I suddenly saw Weston very differently; I’ve lived here less than twenty years, but my parents lived here for much, much longer so I have known it for a very long time. I began to feel not only pleased to be living here – but proud of my town… yes, my town!

This wonderful huge willow basket was on display in the town centre; I couldn’t help but think of my great-grandmother Lois as a little girl, watching her father and brother making baskets.

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